Podcast No. 47. Simon & Sergei – with Olga Sidorovich

This week our guest on the podcast is Olga Borisovna Sidorovich. Olga Borisovna is director of the Institute of Law and Public Policy and editor-in-chief of two important law journals: Sravnitelnoe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie and Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie. The Institute of Law and Public Policy is an NGO and one of the leading independent legal centres in Russia. It was founded in 2000 and is engaged in the study of constitutional processes in Russia and worldwide, strategic litigation, legal education, research and publishing. The Institute’s engagement in strategic litigation via the procedure of Amicus Curiae has resulted in case law decisions of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and the European Court of Human Rights. In 1993, when the new Constitution of Russia was being created, the Centre for Constitutional Studies of Eastern and Central Europe was established under the Moscow Public Research Foundation. Seven years later, it was transformed into an independent organisation – the Institute of Law and Public Policy.

The issues discussed in the podcast include the history and work of the Institute of Law and Public Policy; the amicus curiae procedure; reform of the Russian Constitutional Court; amendments to the Constitution made this year; ongoing changes in NGO legislation and the future of the NGO sector; and the future of Russia’s legal system.

This podcast is in the Russian language. You can listen to it here:

You can also listen to the podcast on Podcasts.com,  SoundCloud,  Spotify  or  iTunes

The music, from Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, is performed for us by Karolina Herrera.

Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: Olga Sidorovich heads the Institute for Law and Public Policy and is also editor-in-chief of the journal Comparative Constitutional Review. But this is not only academic work: Olga Sidorovich is the force behind the ILLP’s work to develop constitutional law, and the Institute also collaborates widely with civil society activists, not least journalists and bloggers. Olga Borisovna knows a great deal and talks so interestingly that Simon Cosgrove, who co-presents this podcast with me, had no little task to fit the podcast into a single hour! The ILLP dates back to 1992 when the Centre for Constitutional Studies of Eastern and Central Europe was established. In 2000 it became an independent legal entity as the Institute of Law and Public Policy. The departure from Soviet ideology, the creation of its programme at the time of the creation of the 1993 constitution, its work with the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation – it was fascinating to hear about all this from Olga Borisovna. We also talked about the new version of the constitution. Olga Sidorovich expressed the view that the discussion of the recent constitutional reform was superficial and lacked real substance. Olga Borisovna also touched on the recent amendments introduced to the State Duma aimed at further complicating the life of Russian NGOs. The proposed innovations include expanding the list of sources of “foreign funding”, making it illegal to register a subdivision of a foreign NGO at a home address, the requirement to submit all programmes for future events to the Ministry of Justice in advance and the power of the Ministry of Justice to ban NGOs from conducting certain activities, and indeed to close down NGOs altogether. Our conversation were very serious and at times disburbing, but always extremely informative and interesting.

Simon Cosgrove adds: If you want to listen to this podcast on the podcasts.com website and it doesn’t seem to play, please download by clicking on the three dots to the right. A summary of some of the week’s events in Russia relevant to human rights can be found on our website here.

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