8 June 2022
Aleksandr Zhelenin interviewed Elena Lukyanova for Rosbalt
“Russians are now going to live in a closed space, cut off from all the rest of the world. This brings the threat of absolute tyranny and the regime doing whatever it wants — twisting the laws, not implementing them. But there will be nowhere to complain.“
On 7 June, the State Duma passed on second and third readings a package of two bills on implementing the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Amendments have been passed in connection with ending Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe since the beginning of the special operation in Ukraine that provide for the possibility of implementing only those ECtHR decisions that went into effect before 15 March 2022.
Just before, State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, while announcing an investigation into this issue, stated that the “European Court of Human Rights has become an instrument of political struggle against our country in the hands of Western politicians.” In the speaker’s opinion, “some of its decisions directly contradict the Russian Constitution, our values and traditions.”
As Volodin clarified, in addition to the refusal to carry out ECtHR decisions made since the day the Russian Federation submitted its resignation from the Council of Europe, the payment of monetary compensations according to ECtHR decisions that went into effect before 15 March will be made only in roubles and only from accounts in Russian banks.
Rosbalt asked Elena Lukyanova, doctor of jurisprudence and laureate of the Moscow Helsinki Group Prize, to comment on the State Duma’s decision.
— What is your opinion of the State Duma’s passage of amendments on not implementing ECtHR decisions in the Russian Federation?
— First of all, this decision contradicts the Russian Constitution.
— But in 2020, during national voting on amendments to the country’s Basic Law, weren’t changes made that speak to the priority of Russian over international legislation?
— As they say, read what’s written. We still have in our Constitution the irremovable Article 15 on the priority of international law, which reads as follows: “The generally recognized principles and standards of international law and the international agreements of the Russian Federation constitute a component part of its legal system. If an international agreement of the Russian Federation establishes rules other than those provided for by law, the rules of the international agreement shall apply.”
So they can write whatever they want, but it contradicts the Constitution. According to our Constitution, all its articles must comply with the first and second chapters, which take priority.
— In what way do these decisions made by the State Duma threaten ordinary Russians?
— Russians? Everything is closed off for them. We no longer have the Bologna Process or European justice. This is a state not bound by law. Russians are now going to live in a closed space, cut off from all the rest of the world. This brings the threat of absolute tyranny and the regime doing whatever it wants — twisting the laws, not implementing them. But there will be nowhere to complain.
— What do you think of these new amendments as a legal scholar?
— They don’t need a legal scholar’s comments. From the legal standpoint, there can be no comment.
Translated by Marian Schwartz