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Reforms introduced after failure to pay compensation to Chernobyl rescue worker

Burdov v. Russia  | 2002 and 2009

Reforms introduced after failure to pay compensation to Chernobyl rescue worker

Once they heard about the decision of the European court, other survivors of Chernobyl took Anatoliy Burdov’s initiative.

Television report by 1st Channel (former ‘ORT’), Russia, 19th June 2002 - © Photo ПЕРВЫЙ КАНАЛ

Background

Anatoliy Burdov worked on the emergency response to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. He was exposed to a huge amount of radioactive emissions. He was entitled to various social benefits, but the authorities refused to pay them. Mr Burdov took the government to court in Russia and won. Yet even then the authorities did not pay up, refusing to follow the courts’ judgments.

Mr Burdov’s case reflected a wider problem in Russia. Large groups of vulnerable people could not get court judgments enforced. This meant that pensions, child allowances and compensation for injury during military service went unpaid.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The Strasbourg court ruled on Mr Burdov’s situation twice. It found that he had been awarded compensation by Russian courts, but the government had failed to pay. This breached his right to a fair trial and his right to property. It reflected a wider problem of non-enforcement of court judgments in Russia, which called for significant reforms.

Follow-up

A wide range of measures were introduced between 2005 and 2011 to improve the enforcement of domestic court judgments. In line with rulings from Strasbourg, in 2010 a system was created to provide compensation when judgments are not enforced for a long time.

Mr Burdov was paid the money he was owed. The authorities also paid money owed to claimants in over 5,000 other cases related to the Chernobyl disaster.   

Additional information

  • Judgment 1 and 2 of the European Court of Human Rights
  • Resolution 1, 2 and 3 of the Committee of Ministers