Team 29: ❓❓Two questions and a ‘bonus prize’

18 January 2020




Hi, Tanya Torocheshnikova here.

The week began fairly quietly, and it didn’t look like there would be much going on. But on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin delivered his address to the Federal Assembly, and it all kicked off…

You already know about maternal benefits for the first child and hot school dinners. But aside from all that, Putin also proposed introducing amendments to the Constitution and giving primacy to national over international law. We asked our lawyer Valery Vetoshkin what this means and what we are to make of this.

“As a lawyer,” says Lera, “two questions spring to mind straight away.”

“The first is about Article 15, which sets out the relationship between national and international legislation. It can be found in Chapter One. In accordance with the rules of that very Constitution, one cannot make changes to Chapter One by introducing simple amendments. For that, you have to convene the Constituent Assembly and effectively adopt a new constitution.

The second question is what will happen to appeals to the European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR]? Currently, Russia executes ECtHR decisions based not only on the primacy of international law, but also because we have signed up to an international agreement and recognise the jurisdiction of the European Court. But it isn’t clear what will happen once changes are made to the relationship between national and international law.”

Before we’d managed to digest all this, on the next day, the demented roulette wheel was spun again. This time, we got a ‘bonus prize’. Our client Karina Tsurkan was suddenly released from custody. A year and a half ago, the former Inter RAO director and mother of a young son was charged with espionage on behalf of Moldova. Tsurkan has been held in Lefortovo since June 2018, but will now be going home, albeit with multiple restrictions such as not being allowed out after 7pm. Still, she’ll be home.

In another development, the very next day, students at the Higher School of Economics [HSE] were banned from signing open letters and engaging in human rights activity.

“Our first open letter was in support of the European University, in objection to it being shut down,” explains Armen Aramyan, editor of the student magazine DOXA. “People have been joking about how useless open letters are as a form of protest – they’re all about playing it safe. It seems that over the summer, such letters have come to be seen as somehow dangerous in the eyes of the authorities.”

Now, HSE students plan to write an open letter defending their right to write open letters. What’s recursion? See recursion.

Anyway, come on, 2020! Keep it up! Are we going to keep spinning that wheel?

Tanya & Teaam 29

Translated by Lindsay Munford

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