Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Having Gelded Russian Constitutional Court, Putin Now Moves to Abolish Them in Federal Subjects

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 16 – Having gelded the Russian Constitutional Court (,  Vladimir Putin has introduced and the Duma passed on first meeting a new law that will abolish analogous courts in the 13 federal subjects that have them at present (

            These courts were symbolically important especially in the republics; and on occasion, they took decisions that neither Moscow nor its agents there liked, most prominently in the case of Ingushetia whose Constitutional Court ruled against the Yevkurov-Kadyrov land deal that cost the republic 10 percent of its territory.

            Since then, Moscow and Magas have waged a campaign to do away with that court but the Ingush Popular Assembly has refused to go along, pointing out that the court was established by the republic constitution and cannot be abolished but by referendum, something the powers don’t want to risk (

            Magas officials had insisted that the court was not cost effective, having rendered only 24 decisions over the last decade. But the Ingush court’s defenders say that when it mattered most in the case of the backroom deal between Magas and Grozny, the court was the only institution to speak out in defense of Ingush rights.

            Putin’s new action is obvious designed to close down the Ingush court and for good measure to close down all the others, many of which have in fact been largely inactive but remain symbols of sovereignty. In a blog post, former Putin speechwriter and commentator Abbas Gallyamov says that the decision will cause problems – and that is why it was taken.

            He says that “all these constitutional courts never interfered with anyone,” true even of the Ingush court whose decision on the land deal was appealed to Moscow and overruled there (

            Why then has the Kremlin taken this step, “especially now when protest attitudes even without it are growing?” The answer is simple but has no rational basis. It is “simply the habit” among the powers that be “to tighten the screws,” first by provoking the population and then sending in its siloviki to control the situation.

            Putin’s system is so arranged that it cannot stay in a quiet position for long. “It creates enemies with whom it then begins to fight.” That is how it retains power.

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