Putin signs law allowing the overthrow of human rights court verdicts
MOSCOW – Reuters
AP photoPresident Vladimir Putin has signed a law allowing Russia's Constitutional Court to decide whether or not to implement rulings of international human rights courts.
The law, published on Dec. 15 on the government website, enables the Russian court to overturn decisions of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if it deems them unconstitutional.
Human Rights Watch has said the law is designed to thwart the ability of victims of human rights violations in Russia to find justice through international bodies.
The law comes after the ECHR ruled in 2014 that Russia must pay a 1.9 billion euro ($2.09 billion) award to shareholders of the defunct Yukos oil company, a verdict that added to financial pressure on Moscow as it struggles with shrinking revenues due to tumbling oil prices and Western sanctions.
The ECHR said it had received 218 complaints against Russia in 2014 and that it had found 122 cases in which Moscow had violated the European Convention on Human Rights, including the deportation of Georgian citizens in 2006 and the incarceration of defendants in metal cages during Russian court hearings.
Russia's parliament approved the new bill last week and Putin signed it into law on Dec. 14.
Valery Zorkin, the head of Russian Constitutional Court, told Putin on Dec. 15 that Russia was in favour of "dialogue" in case there was a problem.
"I don't see any problem there, I think that people are worrying for nothing," Zorkin said.
Russia does not have the best record with Europe’s human rights court since ratifying the ECHR in 1998. In 2014, the European court delivered 129 judgments from 218 applications that were declared admissible, 122 of which found at least one violation of the convention. In 2014 alone, the court dealt with 15,792 applications from Russia.