Lawyer explains constitution amendment over international law

The amendment prohibiting the implementation of international treaties if they contradict the Constitution of the Russian Federation will not affect relations between Russia and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), says adviser to the Federal Chamber of Lawyers Evgeny Rubinstein.

The corresponding amendment is planned to be introduced in Article 79 of the Constitution, the new wording will be such a provision: “Decisions of interstate bodies adopted on the basis of the provisions of international treaties of the Russian Federation in their interpretation, contrary to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, are not subject to enforcement in the Russian Federation”.

“The amendment to Article 79 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation is unlikely to lead to a decrease in the number of complaints filed by Russian citizens or their lawyers with the ECHR”, – Rubinstein told the reporters.

He recalled that back in 2015, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation ruled on the right of the Russian Federation not to execute decisions of the ECHR if they contradict the constitution. However, since then the number of complaints has only increased.

“Compared to 2017, the number of complaints against Russia has almost doubled. The lowest rate was in 2017, and it was related to the reform of the ECHR system of work with complaints, toughening the filing process and screening criteria for incorrectly drawn up complaints”, – the lawyer said.

Thus, he stressed, the decision of the Constitutional Court had no effect on the number of complaints filed by Russians.

“The procedure for implementing this provision is provided for by the said resolution. Therefore, such an amendment can render no meaningful effect on relations with the ECHR, as well as diminishing or increasing its authority. For the sake of justice, it should be noted that such provisions are enshrined in the constitutions of some European countries, for example, in Germany. And, as far as we know, this norm has limited neither the right to submit complaints to the ECHR, nor relationship with the ECHR”, – Rubinstein added.

The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, expressing its opinion on the amendment to the Constitution of the Russian Federation by the decisions of the ECHR, recommended that the proposed addition to Article 79 of the Constitution (on international relations) be deleted or its wording changed. The Commission indicated that Russia had made a political decision to join the Council of Europe and remain a member of this organization. After ratifying the ECHR and recognizing the jurisdiction of the Strasbourg court, it has committed itself to enforce court decisions, the report said.