Sergei Pashin: On the negative consequences of the abolition of the constitutional courts in the regions of the Russian Federation

17 November 2020

Sergei Pashin, speaking on Govorit Moskva radio station

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Говорит Москва]

Constitutional courts in the regions of Russia will be abolished by 2023. This is a consequence of amendments being approved in second reading of the bill on the instruments for the restriction of the powers of judges.

It is stipulated that the regions will have the right to form constitutional councils subordinate to legislative assemblies, and judges who have resigned because of the new rules will retain the appropriate safeguards.

Sergei Pashin, professor of the Judicial System at the Higher School of Economics, a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, a retired judge, criticized the authors of this development  on the radio station Govorit Moskva [Moscow Speaking]. He pointed out that if their plans are realised, the Russian regions will lose their independence.

“This will affect federalism, primarily, because the regions of the Federation will lose another element of their autonomy. Although they pay for their own Constitutional Courts, for some reason the Federation deems it possible to intervene in this matter. In reality, instead of a system of ‘checks and balances’ in the regions, we will get a body subordinated to the local legislatures and one that will not dare to oppose it, if it violates the Constitution.” 

Pashin added that, in future, it will be difficult to verify that local laws adopted in the regions of our country comply with the constitution.

“It is possible that it will be necessary to apply to federal level courts in the locality: regional courts. If local laws violate the local constitution, and the body that reviews these laws is subordinate to the local legislature that violated the constitution, then there is no effective review. They can make gestures, but they will not be able to make any binding decisions. Something similar happened in the USSR, when the so-called Committee of Constitutional Supervision, ignominiously disbanded itself. These  constitutions will come in useful, but just who will control the compliance of local laws with these constitutions? Most likely, the federal courts. So federalism will get another severe blow.”

From the day that this bill comes into force, the constitutional courts of the regions will not be empowered to proceed with new cases.

According to TASS, the amendment was prepared by the heads of the relevant committees of the State Duma and the Federation Council, Pavel Krasheninnikov and Andrei Klishas.

Translated by Graham Jones

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