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Oct 28, 2021
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Putin’s intrigue: Successor # 1 goes negative

Photo: Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev (right and Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation Valery Zorkin (left)

Photo: Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev (right and Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation Valery Zorkin (left) (Photo: Dmitry Astakhov / TASS)

Vladimir Putin awarded the President of the Constitutional Court (CC) Valeria Zorkina the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 1st degree “for a great contribution to the development of constitutional justice in Russia and many years of fruitful activity.”

Zorkin has indeed been in office for a record period – from 1991 to 1993 and from 2003 to the present. Previously, he had already been awarded the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, II, III and IV degrees. Thus, Zorkin became a full holder of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland.

The awarding gave rise to many versions, which are quoted by the Telegram channel “Nezygar”:

“Apparently, Zorkin is finalizing the last days. In Russia, sometimes, if they are awarded, then before being removed from office, ”one writes. “The main candidate under consideration instead of Zorkin is the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Medvedev”, The other is sure. “Downed pilot [Медведева] they will not be given such a post. Especially during the Great Transfer, ”the third questioned.

Meanwhile, it was Dmitry Medvedev, when he was president, who initiated in 2010 amendments to the law on the Constitutional Court, which gave Zorkin the right to remain the chairman of the Constitutional Court for an indefinite period. Who else but Medvedev will now replace Zorkin? I gave it myself [КС], he took it himself.

If the observers are right and the appointment does take place, it will almost certainly be Medvedev’s last high position. The Constitutional Court is not a courtyard. Putin will not change its chairmen every few years. And is there any other worthy application for Medvedev?

The deputy in the Security Council is small for the former president of the country. From the leadership of United Russia, as the elections showed, he was pushed aside by grasping young careerists. Again on the government? Not that, exclaims a country weary of poverty. Moreover, Putin is unlikely to risk entrusting supreme power to Medvedev again. Wrong time.

According to the latest data from VTsIOM, only 21% of Russians trust Medvedev, while Putin’s level of trust is 65%, and Mishustin’s is 48%.

– The role of the Constitutional Court is still colossal, – says political scientist Ilya Grashchenkov… – And the fact that now no one “hype” on his decisions, as it was during the adoption of amendments to the Constitution, does not detract from his dignity. The last thing in which the Constitutional Court takes an active part is the law Klishasa-Krasheninnikova about public authority. It is necessary to correlate state power and local self-government, the most important question arose about the name of the head of Tatarstan.

Zorkin has been chairing the Constitutional Court for a very long time. And therefore, he has a certain independence. Yes, he does everything in the interests of the state and the president, but even within the Constitutional Court, judges with dissenting opinions remain, they are not squeezed out. If you set a goal to get a completely loyal COP, then you probably want to reformat it. Remove the aged Zorkin, put the same Medvedev. For him, it would be a semi-retirement position, although many would like such a position.

“SP”: – Medvedev, in your opinion, the only candidate?

– Not only Medvedev can lead the Constitutional Court, but also, for example, Dmitry Kozak and many others. On the one hand, people are loyal, on the other, not only with a good legal education, but also who know the mechanism of work of the authorities in Russia and understand what needs to be tweaked now so that the system is modernized, but at the same time it continues to work.

“SP”: – Maybe something breaks?

– Today’s Russia, as a state, is only 30 years old. Three stages can be distinguished: the 1990s – a kind of primordial soup, when the laws were copied from the American ones, the zero years – an attempt to come up with something on our own, the last decade – a lot of mostly repressive laws – an attempt to ban everything. The laws turned out to be all very different, they block each other. It is now very important for the Constitutional Court to link these stages together. There will be a lot of work.

Lawyer and human rights activist Dmitry Agranovsky I would like to see a professional at the head of the Constitutional Court, not the current deputy head of the Security Council.

– Valery Zorkin earned respect when he declared unconstitutional Yeltsin’s decree No. 1400, which became the basis for the 1993 coup d’etat. But after that, there were no such bold steps. Sometimes, reading Valery Fyodorovich, I think that serfdom can be substantiated in this way. For example, as an element of caring for the peasants.

Now the general trend is for reaction, prohibitions, tightening of screws. And the Constitutional Court is no exception, as the entire state machine is drifting in this direction. It’s not about Zorkin. If you replace him with another person, then this process can go even faster. Another thing is that the KS was originally conceived to be independent. But we do not see this.

“SP”: – Medvedev, when he was president, called the Constitutional Court “a powerful vaccine against totalitarian habits.” Would you like to see him at the head of the COP?

– The word “totalitarianism” is an abusive term coined to refer to the USSR. It’s pointless. There is the concept of dictatorship, the dictatorship of oligarchic capital. We all see this. I would not like to see Medvedev instead of Zorkin. There are many specialists in constitutional law, professionals who could head the Constitutional Court. I know at least two.

Coordinator of the unregistered party “The Other Russia of E. V. Limonov” Andrey Dmitriev believes that the cadre of “St. Petersburg” is inexhaustible.

– Valery Zorkin has become a very valuable acquisition for Vladimir Putin’s team. After all, our president strives to ensure that the formal legal side of the case is always strictly observed. And so Putin, the successor of Boris Yeltsin, appoints to the head of the Constitutional Court a person who took a position outside the fray in 1993, demonstrating his objectivity and loyalty to the letter of the law.

All subsequent years Zorkin did not disappoint him. The Constitutional Court steadily churned out decisions in favor of the executive branch on key issues, supporting, among other things, the so-called “all-Russian poll” on amending the Constitution. In private matters, he sometimes took the side of citizens, nevertheless, over time, more and more distance from them, even purely procedural.

“SP”: – Are there examples?

– I will give my own example. A year ago, at the end of 2020, I was fined for holding a one-man picket at the Turkish consulate in St. Petersburg against its interference in the war in Karabakh under an “antiquated” article. I appealed against this absurd decision in the district court and then turned to the Constitutional Court. However, if earlier two court verdicts were enough for such an appeal, now they demand a third – they say, the possibilities of justice in the Russian Federation have not been exhausted. The Third Court of Cassation, which had to turn, found its own claims to the documents … In general, things are still there. As you can see, even getting through with a complaint to the Constitutional Court is a whole problem.

“SP”: – Ahead is the transit of power or a period of severe political turbulence, and Zorkin is already 78 years old. Many predict him to be Medvedev’s successor, who granted unlimited powers to Zorkin when he was president …

– I would draw attention to the figure of the rector of St. Petersburg State University, 62 Nikolay Kropachev… Putin’s colleague at the law faculty and lecturer of the Deputy Head of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, Doctor of Laws Kropachev enjoys the full confidence of the state leadership and clearly sat in the rector’s chair. And besides, he was bogged down in a whole series of internal conflicts (for example, with the Alumni Association) and scandals (as with the dismemberment professor Oleg Sokolov).

Of the prominent players, Kropachev has strained relations only with the head of the Federation Council. Valentina Matvienko, at one time lobbying for his resignation from the post of head of the Statutory Court of St. Petersburg. However, she herself is 72 years old, it is not a fact that she will not retire, and already on the eve of the transit of power, her opinion will not be decisive.

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