The constitutional court on Tuesday found that the decision of the Strasbourg court in the case of “Anchugov and Gladkov V. Russia” contradicts the Russian Constitution and therefore it is impossible to fulfill.
High judges acknowledged that the European court of human rights has exceeded its authority by demanding that Russia granted suffrage to those who are serving a sentence in colonies.
The COP came to the conclusion that the prohibition of convicted persons to vote contained in the Constitution and ECHR is not the right to demand that Russia had amended its Basic law.
“Russia as high and the international side at the time of ratification of the Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms [and to recognize the jurisdiction of the ECHR] did not consent to the amendment of the Constitution, — the judge pointed out. — The Convention has greater legal force than Federal laws, but not greater or equal to the [Russian] Constitution.”
The COP noted that the right to vote deprivation not all prisoners, only those who are found in the colonies. “Only imprisonment entails the deprivation of the right to vote,” said the court. And no reason to believe that the prohibition of discrimination of certain categories of prisoners there, thought the COP. High judge recalled that the criminal law almost completely eliminates the possibility to send to the colony those who first committed a crime small or moderate severity.
The first case
The contested decision, the ECHR passed in 2013, having satisfied the complaint of ex-prisoners Anchugova Sergei and Vladimir Gladkov. Each of them complained that while serving his sentence (15 years imprisonment), they were denied the right to vote. The Strasbourg court ordered Russia to eliminate these violations.
But the Ministry of justice addressed a request to the constitutional court, in which asked to check the decision of the international court in contradiction with the Basic law. Such a right, the COP established in July 2015. But it was the first.
At the hearing supported the request of the Deputy Minister Georgy Matyushkin, he persuaded the judges that the ECHR has violated the country’s sovereignty, subjecting critics of the Constitution, which directly forbids to participate in elections prisoners.
Don’t allow to execute the decision of the Strasbourg court also asked the representatives of both chambers of Parliament, President, government, Prosecutor General and Central electoral Commission.
They insisted that allowing prisoners to vote would entitle criminals to influence the formation of authorities. “We’re talking about such concepts as power and criminality. The Constitution prohibits the participation of criminals in the formation of the government. From my point of view, this position should be saved,” was made by the representative of the Federation Council Alexey Aleksandrov.
They argued that for example, the UK also refuses to enforce a similar decision of the ECtHR in the case of John Hertza, and to grant suffrage to prisoners.
In support of the decision of the ECHR were only Anchugov and Gladkov who personally came to court. They argued that participation in elections should be a right, not a privilege, as it turns out now. And the prisoners in modern Russia fewer rights than persons with dual citizenship, insisted Anchugov. Thus, according to the FSIN now punishment in places of deprivation of liberty are serving 650 thousand people (as of 1 March).
The position of ex-prisoners were supported only by the representative of the Council on human rights under the President Ilya shablinsky. He offered to introduce a differentiated approach and allow the people to vote, for example, those who are contained in prisons. It’s not necessary to change the Constitution, just reinterpret, persuaded the judges shablinsky.