Law of the Week. State Duma passes bills asserting supremacy of Russian Constitution over international law

Week-ending 20 November 2020

A series of bills passed their third and final readings in the State Duma on 18 November 2020 amending Russia’s law codes – the Civil Code, the Commercial Procedure Code, the Civil Procedure Code, the Code of Administrative Procedure, the Criminal Procedure Code – and 115 other laws. The bills are intended to bring the law codes into line with the recently amended Constitution and assert the supremacy of the Russian Constitution over international law. The day before, on 17 November 2020, the State Duma approved a bill in first reading to give lifetime immunity to former presidents.


RAPSI, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: The State Duma adopted a package of bills on the primacy of Russia’s Constitution over decisions and rulings of international organizations and courts in a final third reading on Wednesday, according to the website of the lower house of parliament. Amendments are proposed to Russia’s Civil Code, Commercial Procedure Code, Civil Procedure Code, Code of Administrative Judicial Procedure, Criminal Procedure Code and 115 laws.  The changes initiated by the President are to bring current legislation up to the constitutional provisions on the inadmissibility of the use of international treaties and their interpretation contradicting to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the statement reads.

RFE/RL, Tuesday, 17 November 2020: Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has approved the first reading of a draft bill that would grant sweeping lifetime immunity to former presidents. The legislation is part of a package of constitutional amendments approved in a referendum this summer that could potentially see President Vladimir Putin stay in power until 2036. The draft stipulates that any former head of state and their families obtain lifetime immunity from criminal or administrative charges. They also cannot be detained, arrested, searched, or interrogated. The only exception is for treason, which must first be approved by the State Duma and the Supreme and Constitutional courts. Under the current law, former presidents are only immune from prosecution for crimes committed while in office.

Meduza, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: On Tuesday, November 17, State Duma deputies approved a draft law on extending immunity for former Russian presidents in its first reading. The bill was developed to support the amendments to the constitution adopted following this summer’s nationwide vote. That being said, the proposed legislation still provoked a controversial discussion among Russian lawmakers. Deputies from the Communist Party (KPRF) in particular were adamantly opposed — prompting parliamentary chairman Vyacheslav Volodin to accuse them of “trampling” on Russia’s institutions.

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