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Rules For Strasbourg Court Appeals Could Be Reformed After National Legal Reform - Zorkin

MOSCOW. July 17 (Interfax) - The rules on appealing to the European Court of Human Rights could be reformed once the Russian legal system is reformed, chairman of the Russian Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin said.

Zorkin set out his position in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper to be published on Wednesday. Russians currently can appeal to the Strasbourg court within six months after a court of appeal has issued its ruling. This mechanism cuts higher courts, including the Supreme Arbitration Court and the Supreme Court, out of the loop, he said.

Earlier Zorkin said in an interview with Interfax that "a provision, according to which one could turn to the Strasbourg court only after all levels of the national legal system are passed, should be introduced in Russian law."

The statement caused a large public outcry and was treated as an attempt to restrict opportunities to appeal to the Strasbourg court.

"The idea of restricting the right of Russians to go to the Strasbourg court is absurd and hard to realize, because the right is provided by the European Convention of Human Rights, which according to Article 15 of the Russian Constitution is a part of our legal system and which defines the direction of the system's development to a large extent," Zorkin told Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

The issue involves "reforming the Russian legal system such that a part, a major part, of reasons for turning to the Strasbourg court are made redundant, because there are real and effective means to safeguard rights at the national level," Zorkin said.

"The task of national legal and law enforcement agencies is to protect human rights using domestic (national) mechanisms and guaranteeing that constitutional provisions are observed. Our common task is to make these mechanism efficient from the point of view of protecting the rights of citizens," Zorkin said.