Friday, November 20, 2020

Moscow May Move Against Regional Parliaments after It Disbands Regional Constitutional Courts, Bashkir Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 18 – Moscow’s drive to disband constitutional courts in the federal subjects not only undermines the principles of federalism enshrined in the country’s constitution and name but is based on a logic that may be deployed to do away with other government bodies at the federal subject level, including parliaments, according to Bashkir experts.

            The Moscow legislative push to disband the constitutional courts in the 13 federal subjects which have them is based on the idea that they are an unnecessary appendage because Russia has a common legal space and the country’s single constitutional court can perform their functions (

            The Ufa edition of Kommersant asked three leading Bashkir legal specialists for their reaction given that Bashkortostan has had a constitutional court since 1996. All of them said disbanding these courts represented a serious attack on federalism as such and that it was likely to lead to even more moves against the republics and regions (

            Khalyaf Ishmuratov, who served as deputy prime minister of the republic between 1995 and 2005 said he was completely opposed to doing away with constitutional courts at the federal subject level. “The very name of our country, the Russian Federation, says that our government system is federative and the subjects of Russia form a single state.”

            “In America, the states have their own legislative and judicial powers and constitutions. If we call ourselves a federative state, we in Russia must give the subjects the chance to have their own constitutional courts. Their elimination,” he says, “will lead to the creation of a unitary state.”

            Aydar Mullanurov, managing partner at the Barrister Law Firm in Ufa, expressed his opposition as well, arguing that the attack on the republic constitutional courts is based on a logic that Moscow could extend to other parts of the republic government and thus destroy the republics and destroy federalism.

            Such a move, he continued, “violates generally accepted principles of law and international experience.” Saying that the republic laws are the same as federal ones, which the authors of this legislation do in support of their proposal, eliminates any justification for the existence of the republics and regions as such beyond administrative conveniences.

            Many in Moscow do not understand, he suggests, that “the constitutional court is an institution with very broad authority. For example, it has the right to denounce decisions of the head of the republic and government and other organs of state power and even to express its distrust of the heads of Bashkortostan.”

            And Arsen Shvakhmetov, a Bashkir political analyst, is especially blunt. In turbulent times, he says, the powers of a constitutional court can undermine the power vertical; and so in a preemptive move, the power vertical is striking at them. But it is very unlikely that this attack by Moscow on federalism will end with this.

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