Oct 17, 2020
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The judges of the Constitutional Court want to prohibit any criticism of the decisions of this court and the publication of a dissenting opinion

The relevant State Duma Committee on State Construction and Legislation recommended the adoption for the second reading of the presidential bill on the Constitutional Court (CC) an amendment prohibiting the judges of the CC to criticize in any form the decisions of this instance, as well as to publish their dissenting opinion and publicly refer to it.

The authors of the amendment were the head of the committee on state construction and legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov and the chairman of the committee of the Federation Council on constitutional legislation and state construction Andrei Klishas.

According to the amendment, a judge of the Constitutional Court does not have the right to express his opinion on an issue that may become the subject of consideration in the Constitutional Court or is studied or accepted by the court for consideration, before a decision is made on this issue. The ban applies to statements in print media, mass media, independently distributed texts, on websites, in speeches in front of any audience, correspondence with public authorities, organizations and citizens, "who, based on the circumstances of its conduct, can make it public."

The judges and other persons who attended the closed meeting will not have the right to disclose the content of the discussion and the results of the voting, including publicizing their disagreement with the decision taken in any form.

A judge of the Constitutional Court who disagrees with the decision of the Constitutional Court will have the right to state his dissenting opinion in writing. A judge who voted for the adopted resolution or opinion on the merits of the issue under consideration, but remained in the minority when voting on any other issue or on the reasoning for the decision made, will be able to state in writing his opinion on disagreement with the majority of judges.

According to the amendment, the dissenting opinion or opinion of the judge shall be attached to the minutes of the meeting of the Constitutional Court and kept together with it. But the judges will not be able to make it public in any form or publicly refer to it. The first version of the bill stated that the dissenting opinion "should be posted on the website of the Constitutional Court <.. wp_automatic_readability="68.517113095238"> together with the decision of the Constitutional Court, "Mediazona notes.

Now the judge of the Constitutional Court, who does not agree with the majority of the other judges, can state his opinion in a separate document, which is published together with the decision. It is not legally binding, but can influence subsequent rule-making and enforcement.

In 2013, Judge Vladimir Yaroslavtsev stated in his dissenting opinion that the law on rallies, which seriously toughened the rules for their conduct and the responsibility of organizers and participants, was the result of a fundamental violation of the Constitution. He noted that between the second and third readings of the document in the State Duma, there was actually a change in its concept, and for the sake of "momentary desires" to quickly pass the law, the constitutional right of citizens to freedom of assembly was brought to the "sacrificial altar" of the State Duma.

In 2009, Yaroslavtsev said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País that "during the presidency of Vladimir Putin and his successor Dmitry Medvedev, the judiciary in Russia has become an instrument in the service of the executive branch." After that he was forced to leave the Council of Judges. In 2014, Yaroslavtsev pointed out the discriminatory nature of the law on non-profit organizations - "foreign agents".

In 2017, Yaroslavtsev and his colleague Konstantin Aranovsky published dissenting opinions on the ruling on the impossibility of enforcing the ECtHR decision in the Yukos case. In the same year, Aranovsky did not agree with the conclusions of the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of the ban on probation for serious crimes from standing in elections.

In 2019, Aranovsky, in his dissenting opinion on one of the decisions of the Constitutional Court, stated that he did not trust the diplomas of Russian universities and, in general, harshly criticized the system of Russian higher education. The judge also rebuked the rectors of Russian universities for abandoning "self-government and academic freedom" and, as a result, "maintaining the system that issues permits for the profession."

And in February 2020, Aranovsky called the Soviet Union an illegally created state and said that the Russian Federation should not be considered the legal successor of the "repressive and terrorist acts" of the Soviet regime. The judge expressed his opinion in addition to the decision of the Constitutional Court on compensation for housing taken away during the Soviet repression. Aranovsky explained that he agreed with this decision, but considered it necessary to additionally speak out on the issue of Russia's legal responsibility for crimes committed by the Soviet government.

Open Media also drew attention to the fact that the clause that the chairman of the Constitutional Court and his deputy can be appointed only from among the judges of the Constitutional Court has disappeared from the draft law on judges of the Constitutional Court. From the updated text of the bill, it follows that the President of the Russian Federation can nominate any candidate for this position that meets all the necessary requirements.

According to the current rules, the President of the Constitutional Court can be appointed only from among the judges of the Constitutional Court, the composition of which has not been updated since 2010. If the proposed amendments come into force, it will be enough for the applicant for the position of CC President to pass the qualification examination for the position of a judge. The current head of the Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin, has been in office since 2003.

The bill "On Amendments to the Federal Constitutional Law" On the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation "(in terms of bringing it in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Russian Federation)" was introduced to the State Duma by President Vladimir Putin on September 22. On October 13, it was adopted in the first reading. The second reading may take place on October 21. Among other things, the bill proposes to reduce the number of judges of the Constitutional Court from 19 to 11. The President, according to the adopted amendments to the Constitution, has the right to remove any of the judges.

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