Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

November 1, 2001
Russian President Offers his Evaluation of the Russian Constitutional Court
Vladimir Putin: “Constitutional Court is part of the authorities’ check and balances”

The creation, ten years ago, of what was for Russia "an absolutely new legal institution - the Constitutional Court - was a historically important event," President Vladimir Putin told a meeting devoted to the 10th anniversary of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.

The Constitutional Court's activities "helped the strengthening of democracy and legality and inaugurated domestic constitutional justice," he said. Its emergence created what he called "an effective mechanism for the protection of the constitution."

The president said: "A state body appeared in our country for the first time, capable of restricting the legislative and executive authorities on the basis of law and of supressing politicians appealing to political expedience rather than the norms of law."

Vladimir Putin believes the Constitutional Court is part of the authorities' check and balances. Calling the Russian authorities "still weak", he said that they consciously and responsibly accepted this kind of control. He stressed in particular that the Constitutional Court was independent and should deal exclusively with legal matters.

In assessing the ten-year-long history of the Constitutional Court, Vladimir Putin said "all the Constitutional Court's powers proved necessary." The President explained that the Court protected the constitution, defended people's rights and freedom, and was active in creating and strengthening the legal foundation of the state.

Turning to specific features of the legal institution, the President demonstrated that the Constitutional Court, on the one hand, "does not supplant other bodies of power or interfere with their jurisdiction," while, on the other, "it is not dependent on the bodies of power and may influence their activities by its decisions." In this sense, the Constitutional Court "is a higher level of authority, just as an organ of constitutional justice should be."

The Russian president noted that these days, the Constitutional Court enjoys the reputation of a most important and authoritative body. In his view, the fact that representatives of practically all the world courts have come to Moscow, points to the high international prestige of the Constitutional Court of Russia.

When commenting on the quality of the Constitutional Court judges in terms of their responsibility at work, Vladimir Putin stressed that their activities "call for a profound legal knowledge, professional dignity, and occasionally civic courage."

"At the same time", said the President, "the line of development of this most important institution was not a straight one". He admitted that there were repeated attempts to use the court as an arena of political struggle but it was "the principle of independence and non-interference in politics" that won the day.

"Today, this principle is accepted and supported by society and the authorities", said the President proudly. Moreover, "it has been confirmed by the world practice of constitutional justice".

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