Bryansk-Tula Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Free Church v Russia  ECHR 584 was about the dissolution of a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Free Church, a religious organisation registered under Russian law in 1995 in the Bryansk Region, for failure to conform to certain new requirements of domestic law . In 2004 the Ministry of Justice brought an action for the dissolution of the diocese, citing its failure to secure re-registration under the new Religions Act; however, the Trubchevskiy District Court in the Bryansk Region rejected the claim, finding that the articles of incorporation complied with the Act. The Ministry did not appeal; however, when the diocese asked the Ministry about the conditions and procedure for obtaining re-registration, it replied that re‑registration was no longer possible because the time-limit for applying for it had expired on 31 December 2000 . Subsequently, there were various exchanges between the diocese and the Ministry [3-4], culminating in 2012 in a new action by the Ministry for dissolution of the diocese on the grounds that it had committed “gross and repetitive breaches of the law”.In July 2012 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation ordered the diocese to be dissolved on the grounds put forward by the Ministry and in October 2012 the Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court upheld that order .
Before the ECtHR, the diocese complained of breaches of Articles 9 and 11 ECHR, taken on their own and in conjunction with Article 14, arguing that its dissolution had been prompted by the Russian authorities’ determination to eradicate any competition with the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church .
The Court held that the dissolution of the diocese amounted to an interference with its rights under Articles 9 and 11 of the Convention . Though the dissolution had been ordered on the basis of section 14 of the Religions Act and, to that extent, had a legal basis, there was no need to consider whether or not the interference “pursued a legitimate aim” because, in any event, it was not “necessary in a democratic society” . Any technical defects in the diocese’s documentation had been insufficient to justify the dissolution of a long-standing religious organisation:
“It constituted the most severe form of interference and cannot be regarded as proportionate to whatever legitimate aims were pursued. In addition, the national courts did not apply the relevant Convention standards in that their decision-making did not include an analysis of the impact of the applicant church’s dissolution on the fundamental rights of its parishioners” .
The dissolution, therefore, had not been “necessary in a democratic society” and, accordingly, there had been a violation of Article 9 interpreted in the light of Article 11 . It was not necessary to rule separately on the complaint under Article 14 .