Постановление Европейского суда по правам человека от 11.02.2010 «Дело Малыш и другие (malysh and others) против России» [англ.]

Город принятия

EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
FIRST SECTION
CASE OF MALYSH AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA
(Application No. 30280/03)
JUDGMENT*
(Strasbourg, 11.II.2010)
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*This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Malysh and Others v. Russia,

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:

Christos Rozakis, President,

Nina {Vajic}*,

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*Здесь и далее по тексту слова на национальном языке набраны латинским шрифтом и выделены фигурными скобками.

Anatoly Kovler,

Khanlar Hajiyev,

Dean Spielmann,

Giorgio Malinverni,

George Nicolaou, judges,

and {Soren} Nielsen, Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 21 January 2010,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on the last-mentioned date:

PROCEDURE
1. The case originated in an application (No. 30280/03) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ("the Convention") by six Russian nationals listed in paragraph 6 below ("the applicants") on 26 June 2003.

2. The first applicant, Mr Nikolay Malysh, represented the other applicants before the Court. The Russian Government ("the Government") were initially represented by Mr P. Laptev, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights, and subsequently by their new Representative, Mr G. Matyushkin.

3. The applicants alleged, in particular, that the failure on the part of the Russian Government to implement the procedure for redemption of Urozhay-90 bonds had been in breach of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.

4. By a decision of 19 June 2008 the Court declared the application admissible.

5. The Government, but not the applicants, filed further written observations (Rule 59 § 1 of the Rules of Court).

THE FACTS
I. The circumstances of the case
6. The applicants are:

(1) Mr Nikolay Ivanovich Malysh, born in 1949,

(2) Mr Vasiliy Aleksandrovich Bogomolov, born in 1944,

(3) Mr Sergey Stepanovich Iglin, born in 1949,

(4) Ms {Zinaida} Aleksandrovna Sannikova, born in 1954,

(5) Ms Lyubov Vasilyevna Nazarenko, born in 1953, and
(6) Mr Sergey Nikolaevich Malysh, born in 1979.

7. All the applicants are Russian nationals living in the Amur Region. They are all holders of Urozhay-90 bonds.

A. Background information on Urozhay-90 bonds
8. In 1987 the General Secretary of the USSR Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev presented his "basic theses", which laid the political foundation for economic reform heralding the transition to a market economy. Several laws were enacted which opened up the State-dominated planned economy to private enterprise. However, the Government preferred to keep control over consumer prices rather than leaving them to be determined by the free market.

9. By 1990 Government spending increased sharply as a growing number of unprofitable enterprises required State support, whereas more resources were diverted to subsidise consumer prices. At the same time, the elimination of central control over production decisions, especially in the consumer-goods sector, led to a breakdown in traditional supply-demand relationships. This resulted in pervasive shortages of food and basic consumer goods. The Government reacted by introducing ration stamps for food and certain hygiene articles.

10. In addition to ration stamps, the Government of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR)*put into circulation several types of so-called "commodity bonds" (товарные чеки) which gave their bearers the right to purchase consumer goods, such as refrigerators, washing machines, tape recorders and passenger cars. The Urozhay-90 ("Harvest-90") bonds were one of many types of bonds; they were distributed among agricultural workers and companies which had sold grain and other agricultural produce to the State in 1990 and 1991. Those bonds were designed to encourage agricultural workers to sell produce to the State in exchange for the right to priority purchasing of goods in high demand (see paragraph 43 below). The State paid workers for the produce at fixed prices and also gave them bonds in amounts proportionate to the value of the produce sold.

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*The RSFSR adopted the Declaration on State Sovereignty on 12 June 1990.

11. The Urozhay-90 bonds were not legal tender, but they had a certain nominal value indicated on their face. That value determined the maximum purchase price of consumer goods which could be sold on production of the bonds. The bonds were not intended for payment but merely for certification of the right to purchase specific goods; the sale of goods was conditional on payment of the full purchase price by the bond-holder and production of the bonds for the same amount. The bonds were not registered in the person's name or otherwise personalised and the Government Resolution did not prevent them from being transferred among individuals and legal entities.

12. On 2 January 1992 the Russian Government decided to put an end to the regulation of retail prices. Shops began to fill up with merchandise but prices increased at a staggering speed (the inflation rate in 1992 was 2,600%). In March 1992, the Government established that goods available under the bonds would be sold at the prices fixed before 2 January 1992 (see paragraph 44 below).

13. In August 1992 the Government introduced the possibility of buying out the bonds with a coefficient of 10. In 1994, the coefficient was raised to 70 (see paragraphs 45 and 46 below). It appears that a significant number of bonds were bought out by the State before the buyout operations were stopped in 1996 (see paragraph 48 below).

14. In 1995 the status of the commodity bonds was codified in the Commodity Bonds Act passed by Parliament (see paragraph 47 below). Its text was very laconic, shorter than one page, but it purported to cover every type of commodities bonds issued in previous years. Section 1 recognised the commodity bonds as part of the internal debt of the Russian Federation; section 2 fixed at ten years the limitation period for the obligations arising out of commodity bonds (the starting date was not specified); section 3 required the Government to adopt a programme for settlement of the internal debt.

15. In 2000 the Government presented the programme for settlement of the internal debt (see paragraph 50 below). It covered every type of commodity bond, save for the Urozhay-90 bonds. A few months before the Commodity Bonds Act was amended so as to provide that the settlement of the debt under the Urozhay-90 bonds would be regulated by a special federal law (see paragraph 49 below).

16. Between 2003 and 2009 the application of section 1 of the Commodity Bonds Act was suspended in the part concerning the Urozhay-90 bonds, in accordance with the laws on the federal budget for each successive year (see paragraph 51 below).

17. In 2009 Parliament passed a law on the buyout of the Urozhay-90 bonds and the Government issued implementing regulations which set out a detailed procedure for buyout of the bonds (see paragraphs 52 and 53 below).

B. Mr Nikolay Malysh (first set of proceedings)
and Mr Bogomolov
18. The applicants Mr Nikolay Malysh and Mr Vasiliy Bogomolov are holders of Urozhay-90 bonds with a total nominal value of 30,110 and 30,000 non-denominated Russian roubles (RUR) respectively.

19. In 2001 Mr Nikolay Malysh and Mr Bogomolov brought an action against the Russian Government and the Ministry of Finance, seeking compensation for the damage incurred through the State's continued failure to effect payment under the bonds.

20. After several rounds of judicial proceedings, on 13 January 2003 the Tambovskiy District Court of the Amur Region refused their claim for the following reasons:

"At present the State programme for settlement of the internal debt in the period 2001 to 2004 has been developed and is being implemented. The Commodity Bonds Act described the debt arising out the Urozhay-90 bonds as a medium-term debt. Accordingly, pursuant to Article 98 § 2 of the Budget Code of the Russian Federation, the maturity date has not yet occurred. It follows that the executive bodies of the Russian Federation are now taking measures for the settlement of the debt to the plaintiffs. In these circumstances, the court cannot find that any acts or failures to act on the part of the defendant have caused any damage to the plaintiffs."
21. On 19 February 2003 the Amur Regional Court upheld that judgment on appeal.

C. Mr Nikolay Malysh (second set of proceedings)
22. The applicant Mr Nikolay Malysh also holds Urozhay-90 bonds with a total nominal value of RUR 582,665.

23. On 5 December 2002 he sued the Russian Government and the Ministry of Finance for the damage incurred through the State's continued failure to effect payment under these bonds.

24. On 4 March 2003 the Tambovskiy District Court of the Amur Region refused his claim for the same reasons as those given in the above-quoted judgment of 13 January 2003.

25. On 23 April 2003 the Amur Regional Court upheld the judgment on appeal.

D. Mr Iglin
26. The applicant Mr Sergey Iglin is the holder of Urozhay-90 bonds with a total nominal value of RUR 152,200.

27. On 5 December 2002 he sued the Russian Government and the Ministry of Finance for the damage incurred through the State's continued failure to effect payment under these bonds.

28. On 20 February 2003 the Tambovskiy District Court of the Amur Region refused his claim for the same reasons as those given in the above-quoted judgment of 13 January 2003.

29. On 28 March 2003 the Amur Regional Court upheld the judgment on appeal.

E. Ms Sannikova
30. The applicant Ms {Zinaida} Sannikova is the holder of Urozhay-90 bonds with a total nominal value of RUR 223,170.

31. On 5 December 2002 she sued the Russian Government and the Ministry of Finance for the damage incurred through the State's continued failure to effect payment under these bonds.

32. After several rounds of judicial proceedings, on 1 July 2003 the Blagoveshchensk Town Court of the Amur Region refused her claim because a federal law governing the procedure for the settlement of the debt arising out of the Urozhay-90 bonds had not yet been adopted and because the law on the 2003 federal budget had suspended the application of the Commodity Bonds Act in the part concerning Urozhay-90 bonds.

33. On 6 August 2003 the Amur Regional Court upheld the judgment on appeal.

F. Ms Nazarenko
34. The applicant Ms Lyubov Nazarenko is the holder of Urozhay-90 bonds with a total nominal value of RUR 271,855.

35. On 5 December 2002 she sued the Russian Government and the Ministry of Finance for the damage incurred through the State's continued failure to effect payment under these bonds.

36. On 19 March 2003 the Blagoveshchensk Town Court of the Amur Region refused her claim because a federal law governing the procedure for the settlement of the debt arising out of the Urozhay-90 bonds had not yet been passed and because the law on the 2003 federal budget had suspended the application of the Commodity Bonds Act in the part concerning Urozhay-90 bonds.

37. On 18 April 2003 the Amur Regional Court upheld the judgment on appeal.

G. Mr Sergey Malysh
38. The applicant Mr Sergey Malysh is the holder of Urozhay-90 bonds with a total nominal value of RUR 222,820.

39. On 5 December 2002 he sued the Russian Government and the Ministry of Finance for the damage incurred through the State's continued failure to effect payment under these bonds.

40. After several rounds of judicial proceedings, on 27 March 2003 the Blagoveshchensk Town Court of the Amur Region refused his claim. It referred to the case-law of the Constitutional Court to the effect that:

"...the balance between the rights and lawful interests of persons who are creditors of the State, on the one hand, and all other persons, on the other hand, may only be fixed in the form of an act of the federal legislature." (decision of 21 December 2000)
41. As no such act had yet been passed, the court dismissed Mr Sergey Malysh's action.

42. On 7 May 2003 the Amur Regional Court upheld the judgment on appeal.

II. Relevant domestic law and practice
43. On 26 July 1990 the RSFSR Council of Ministers adopted Resolution No. 259 on urgent measures for increasing the purchase of agricultural products harvested in 1990 and for ensuring their safe keeping. Its relevant parts resolved as follows:

I. Measures to increase the independence of decision-making by collective and Soviet farms concerning the sale of the harvest
"1. To authorise all manufacturers of agricultural produce to sell the surplus of such produce that remains after delivery under existing agreements... to procurers or other consumers at negotiated prices...

2. To declare inadmissible any restrictions on the sale or shipment of agricultural produce to consumers in autonomous districts or regions of the RSFSR under paragraph 1 of the present resolution... Should local councils introduce such restrictions in their territories, the RSFSR Council of Ministers may stop issuing Urozhay-90 bonds or delivering goods on the basis of them in those territories..."
II. Measures to encourage the sale of agricultural produce to the State through the reciprocal sale of goods in high demand
"7. To begin issuing, in 1990, Urozhay-90 bonds to employees of collective and Soviet farms, other agro-industrial enterprises and organisations, peasants' farms and owners of personal subsidiary land plots in respect of agricultural produce sold to the State.

To determine that the bonds certify the right to purchase goods in high demand at retail prices in trade outlets. The said bonds are not legal tender.

8. The RSFSR Ministry of Finance and the RSFSR Ministry of Agriculture and Food will, until 1 September 1990, print and put into circulation through the branches of the RSFSR State Bank Urozhay-90 bonds for a total amount of 10 billion roubles. The bonds are to be used before 1 October 1991.

9. To establish that Urozhay-90 bonds are issued by the branches of the RSFSR State Bank:

- to all producers who sold standard products to the State between 1 July 1990 and 30 June 1991... in an amount equivalent to 10% of the value