Logo law and pluralism
Logo Università Bicocca

Karuyev v. Russia, No. 4161/13, ECtHR (Third Section), 18 January 2022


Conviction for spitting on a photograph of President Putin. Violation of article 10 for incompatibility with lawfulness requirement.

Normative references

Art. 10 ECHR


1. Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and one of the basic conditions for its progress and for each individual’s self-fulfilment. Subject to paragraph 2, it is applicable not only to ‘information’ or ‘ideas’ that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those which offend, shock or disturb. Such are the demands of pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness, without which there is no ‘democratic society’. Moreover, article 10 ECHR protects not only the substance of the ideas and information expressed but also the form in which they are conveyed.

2. The act of spitting on a photograph of a politician in the wake of his re-election should be considered an expression of political opinion. In the present case, it is not in doubt that the applicant’s conviction of a minor breach of public order in relation to that act and the ensuing fifteen days’ imprisonment amounted to interference with his right to freedom of expression.
(The applicant complained about the violation of his right to freedom of expression under article 10, following his conviction for spitting on a portrait of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. The Court found that there had been a violation of the applicant's right to freedom of expression being the interference not ‘prescribed by law’).