Saturday, December 12, 2020

Putin Wants to Create a Russian Human Rights Court to Use against Russians, Other Countries and Strasbourg

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 10 – The Kremlin has been increasingly unhappy by the ever-larger number of cases from Russia the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg has taken up and ruled against the Russian authorities, and now Vladimir Putin has come out in support of creating a Russian analogue to muddy the waters and give Moscow a propaganda advantage.

            At his annual meeting with the members of the Presidential Human Rights Council, the Kremlin leader said that he supports the idea, advanced at the meeting by Yevgeny Myslovsky, to create “a Russian Strasbourg” that could hear cases that might otherwise go to the European venue (

            Creating such a court would be difficult because of the lack of clarity between cases involving legal rights and human rights and because it would require an amendment to the Russian constitution; but neither of these obstacles are likely to be sufficient to prevent Moscow from moving in this direction.

            At the very least, the existence of such a court would allow Moscow to argue that Russians don’t need to make human rights appeals to Strasbourg when they have their own national court that can take them up, an argument that many Russians and some others might find plausible.

            And because many might accept such an argument, the powers that be in Russia would find it easier to pressure those considering such appeals, to put pressure on those who actually do by arguing they aren’t pursuing all legal avenues inside the country as Strasbourg requires, and to continue to ignore human rights decisions from the European court.

            But there is another and larger way in which such a court would likely help Moscow but cause problems for other countries, Moscow political scientist Aleksandr Pozhalov says. Such a court could agree to hear appeals from citizens of other countries or ethnic Russians living abroad, with its decisions being employed by Moscow against those countries.

            Thus, an ethnic Russian living in a former Soviet republic or a minority or one kind or another living elsewhere could appeal to this Moscow court; and then the Kremlin could use its decisions as a “soft power” weapon against these countries, one that at least some would find convincing.

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