Difficult to ban pro-Russia events

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The freedom of assembly is a constitutionally safeguarded right, meaning it would be difficult for authorities to prevent any pro-Russia events as requested by the Ukraine-Cyprus friendship group.

But restrictions could be imposed where public unrest may be caused, Cyprus Bar Association President Christos Clerides told CNA.

He commented on the Ukrainian-Cypriot Friendship Community officially requesting President Nikos Christodoulides ban pro-Russian events in the Republic.

Clerides told CNA that based on the Constitution and the European Human Rights Convention, it is very difficult for exceptions regarding the safeguarded right of assembly to be accepted because the state could then violate individual rights.

He said the prohibition of this right is rare because it is one of the basic principles defended by democracy and linked with the freedom of speech.

“States which are members of the European Human Rights Convention are very reluctant to restrict the right of assembly even for issues that are not favourable to some people,” Clerides said.

He argued that in cases where gatherings are illegal and aim at causing unrest, for example, through hate speech, the government may impose some restrictions.

“Every event has to be considered on its own merits, and gatherings cannot be prohibited in general because they are associated with Russia or because they support Putin,” Clerides noted.

A letter by the group sent to the President said: “While Russia is waging a barbaric war in the heart of Europe, killing people and committing unimaginable crimes, in Cyprus, mass events are taking place in support of the war and the killing of people”.

There have been several small-scale pro-Russia gatherings since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine in February 2022.