Staunton, October 19 – One of the most concerning amendments to the Russian Constitution was the modification of Paragraph 79 which earlier had made Russian law subordinate to international law and thus gave Russian citizens the opportunity to appeal to bodies like the European Court for Human Rights when Russian courts ruled against them.
As amended, the paragraph specifies that Russian law is superior to international law and that the latter does not apply in Russia unless the powers that be agree to it on a case-by-case basis. Now, legislation is before the Duma that would implement this change. It is likely to pass early next month (ng.ru/politics/2020-10-19/1_7993_laws.html).
The measure would insert “one and the same phrase” in each of 125 laws: “Decisions of inter-governmental organs, adopted on the basis of the provisions of international treaties of the Russian Federation in interpretations which contradict the Constitution of the Russian Federation are not enforceable in the Russian Federation. The presence of such a contradiction can be established according to an order defined by federal constitutional law.”
This change will make it far more difficult for Russians to defend their rights as consumers, migrants, veterans, invalids, and patients in psychiatric clinics, Ivan Rodin of Nezavisimaya gazeta says. But there are two reasons to think that its meaning will be even more negative than the explicit language suggests.
On the one hand, another legal change intended to bringing practice into line with the amendments to the Constitution specifies that the Constitutional Court will block the execution in Russia of any decision of international courts, from the European Court of Human Rights to UN bodies to commercial arbitrage organizations.
And on the other, the new limitations imply the existence of a body that does not now exist but that is likely to appear, Rodin says, some “special state structure which will become responsible for a full-scale struggle against the pernicious influence of the West on the country and its citizens.” That would truly close of much of Russia to outside influences of all kinds.