Politics and Pragmatism: The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and its 20 Years of Engagement with the European Convention on Human Rights
East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Vol 1, 2018
27 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2018
Date Written: March 26, 2018
In this article, I start by observing that not all scholars have noticed this process or its significance. Second, I outline the engagement of the Soviet Union with international human rights mechanisms and, in particular, the work of the Committee for Constitutional Review (CCR). Even prior to Russia’s ratification of the ECHR, the CCRF was given some extraordinarily controversial cases and achieved a high profile, before being suspended by President Boris Yeltsin in late 1993, and I reflect on this period in my second section. Russia’s accession to the Council of Europe coincided with the bitter fighting of the First Chechen War, 1994 to 1997, and some of the first cases to be decided against Russia were applications by Chechen victims of Russian violations in the Second Chechen War, which was launched in late 1999 by Vladimir Putin, who was then Prime Minister of Russia. This is the subject matter of my third section. The resignation of President Yeltsin at the end of 1999 and the start of Mr Putin’s leadership of Russia as acting President, then President for two terms, then Prime Minister, and once again President, with perhaps another term starting in 2018, has inaugurated increasingly authoritarian rule in Russia. In my fourth section, I examine the current high tension between the Russia and the Council of Europe: could Russia leave the system?
My overall argument is that Russia has paid close attention to developments in Western European law and legal systems since the 19th century. German models formed a large part of the basis for the formulation of Russian legal codes and judicial institutions, and this is particularly true of the CCRF. Furthermore, even prior to ratification of the ECHR, the predecessor of the CCRF, the CCS showed itself to be fully aware of and able to mobilise in its judgment international human rights instruments and mechanisms. This, in my opinion, is an important reason why there has been such a close engagement between the CCRF and the ECtHR for so long.
Keywords: russia, russian constitutional court, european court of human rights
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