Garry Kasparov, the greatest player in the history of professional chess, secured a different kind of victory on Tuesday – over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s censor of his news site.
Kasparov wrote on Twitter: “Glad that the European Court of Human Rights decided in my favor that my news site http://kasparov.ru was illegally banned in Russia. But I'd rather the Council of Europe ban Putin's Russia instead of legitimizing his criminal regime.”
Glad that the European Court of Human Rights decided in my favor that my news site https://t.co/GOtOaPoWf7 was illegally banned in Russia. But I'd rather the Council of Europe ban Putin's Russia instead of legitimizing his criminal regime. https://t.co/fg6OF6G00r— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) June 23, 2020
The legal dispute stems from 2014 after Russia illegally annexed Crimea in Ukraine. According to the European court, the blockage of Kasparov’s website, as well as five additional critics of Putin’s rule, means “interference resulting from the application of the procedure under… the Information Act” and that it “had excessive and arbitrary effects – and that the Russian legislation did not afford the applicants the degree of protection from abuse to which they were entitled by the rule of law in a democratic society.”
The court further concluded that, “in so far as the blocking measures targeted the entire online media beyond the content originally identified as unlawful, the interference had no justification… did not pursue any legitimate aim and was not necessary in a democratic society.”
The court wrote that “the Prosecutor General [in Russia] also claimed that www.kasparov.ru had reproduced an image of a pamphlet inciting Crimeans to commit ‘unlawful actions.’ The pamphlet apparently called on Crimeans not to stay silent and not to surrender. "The Prosecutor General’s decision did not specify the nature of the allegedly unlawful actions, the elements which rendered them unlawful or the authority that allowed a Russian prosecutor to determine which conduct by non-Russian nationals living outside the Russian jurisdiction should be considered unlawful.”
The court added that, “in any event, the generic term of 'unlawful actions' did not fall within any of the three categories of prohibited content defined… It follows that the Prosecutor General’s decision regarding the content on www.kasparov.ru did not have a legal basis.”
The court awarded each claimant 10,000 euro for damages.
In 2016, the same European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia illegally detained Kasparov in 2007.
Kasparov sought to fly from Moscow to Samara, in western Russia, to attend a march against Putin’s administration. Russian authorities detained him at Sheremetyevo Airport and held him for five hours.
The Russian chess grandmaster was ranked number 1 in the world from 1986 until his retirement in 2005 – except for three months during that time. Kasparov was born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1963. His father was Jewish and his mother was Armenian. He is widely considered to be the greatest professional chess player in history.