This article asserts that Russian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) contribute to processes of transitional justice in Chechnya through their litigation in front at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Having delivered more than 200 judgments on atrocities which occurred during the two recent conflicts in Chechnya, the ECtHR has repeatedly ruled that the state should pay financial compensation to the victims. While the Russian Federation has been following through on such payments, human-rights monitors allege that domestic authorities have failed to take active measures to address the atrocities themselves.
Through a qualitative interview study with Russian lawyers and NGO representatives, this article seeks to scrutinize how NGOs have been using the ECtHR’s mechanisms and judgments by way of leverage to initiate processes of transitional justice in post-conflict Chechnya. It appears that the ECtHR is not an end-station for human-rights claims and individual grievances but, rather, the start of a series of further claims. NGOs: (a) engage in political advocacy in implementing the judgments; and (b) create leverage for the criminal prosecution of perpetrators.