Dmitry Litvinovich: Double interpretations of bill “On martial law”

The State Duma of Russia gave the second and the third readings to a Constitutional bill “ On martial law”. A RIA Novosti correspondent informs that 364 deputies voted for the document submitted by the president (300 votes were necessary for the document to be passed). The law “On martial law” is one of the documents that provided by the RF Constitution but still had not passed. That is why there are serious gaps in Russia’s Constitutional legislation so far.

The development and passing of other important laws concerning problems of mobilization, civil defense, ect. is hampered because of the absence of legislation on martial law.

A draft bill “On martial law” was submitted to the State Duma by a deputy group in 2000. The draft bill was prepared for the first reading in the State Duma.

In April of 2001, the Russian president also submitted his variant of the law to the Duma (the same draft bill had been submitted by the president in 1997 but was not passed). Duma deputies considered both variants and considered the president version to be better developed. That is why that very bill was passed during the first reading. The September 11 events greatly contributed to development of the law. By passing the law, the deputies stress its importance for the country. Indeed, it is evident for everyone, but the interpretation of the bill may be different.

The bill explains martial law as a special regime that, in accordance with the Russian Constitution, is to be introduced in Russia or several Russian regions in case of aggressive threats. It is to be introduced for the prevention or repulse of any aggression.

It is the president who is authorized to introduce and lif martial law in Russia. It is quite natural, because the president holds the power as the supreme commander in chief. The law describes all possible reasons for the introduction of a martial law in Russia.

These may be, for example, armed intrusions of other states into Russia, any military occupation of Russian territory, an annexation of Russia’s territory by force, the bombing of Russian territory by foreign states, the blockade of Russian ports or shores by alien forces, and the sending of armed groups or mercenaries for the organization of terrorist acts in Russia are also considered as aggression against Russia.

Thus, as the law prescribes, Russia was to have introduced a martial law long ago, because armed groups regularly arrive in Russia from Georgia’s territories. With the law’s coming into effect, martial law may be introduced in the whole of northern Caucasia. For the federal center, this would mean a complete solution to the Caucasian problem. This may be applied to other regions as well.

The bill “On martial law” provides for a special regulation of the constitutional norms for the period of the law’s functioning. Some items of the bill are rather vague, which allows one to interpret it in different ways; this is inadmissible for such a law. In addition, the law can be considered as a good instrument for the solution to many problems, especially in Russia, a country where so many small wars are taking place.

Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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