10 March 2020
Russian human rights defenders have issued a public appeal to the judges of the Constitutional Court, to the heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MVD], the Federal Security Service [FSB], the Prosecutor’s Office, and also the Central Electoral Commission not to adopt the amendments to the Constitution. In the words of the co-chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Valery Borshchev, speaking on Ekho Moskvy radio, the adoption of these amendments would be ‘unlawful.’
‘We consider the proposal of these amendments by the president and a State Duma deputy to be the equivalent of a constitutional coup, one introduced illegally. This is because different amendments, affecting different chapters, are included in the one law. All together. That is an infringement of legislation. It is an illegal action’ he said.
In Borshchev’s words, the amendments, which relate to the second chapter of the Constitution on individual rights and freedoms, give rise to dismay. ‘As regards Chapter 2 – individual rights and freedoms – they have been introduced very craftily. If the verdict of an international court is one that the Russian authorities consider does not accord with Russian legislation, the Russian Federation will be able to refuse to implement it. That is a serious infringement,’ he noted.
The ‘undermining of court authority’ is equally disturbing, in his view. ‘If at present the judiciary enjoys a miserable existence, it would come completely under the president’s hegemony. If previously the Judicial Panel decided questions of appointment and dismissal of judges, now the President will. The principle of the separation of powers is undermined,’ Borshchev emphasized.
Borshchev called upon citizens to vote against these amendments in the forthcoming elections.
‘These amendments would give us a different Constitution. We appeal to the media, to political parties, institutions, and NGOs – all must voice their protest and vote against these amendments. They would change the very structure of the state, we would live in a different country,’ said Borshchev.
Translated by Mary McAuley