As one would expect, the European Commission for Democracy through Law (or the Venice Commission) criticized the amendments to the Russian Constitution. What should be expected after the critical review?
According to experts of the Venice Commission, the amendments make the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation more vulnerable to political pressure, because the powers of judges can be terminated on the proposal of the president.
In addition, the amendments provide for a possibility not to enforce decisions of international courts, including decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights. It goes about a change to article 79 of the Constitution. The Venice Commission called to either remove the amendments or change their wording.
Senator Andrei Klishas, co-chair of the constitutional amendments working group, commented on the conclusions from the Venice Commission.
"We took note of the position of the Venice Commission - that's all there is to it. No changes will be made to the law on amendments in connection with this position. The text of the amendment will remain unchanged," Klishas told RIA Novosti.
"The decisions of the ECHR should be based on the convention, and it is such decisions that will be enforced - all decisions that will be based on the interpretation of the convention can be enforced only if they do not contradict to the Russian constitutional law and order. This is the position of the majority of citizens of the country, and this is what the amendment to the Constitution says," said the senator.
Conclusions made by the Venice Commission are advisory in nature. Generally speaking, it is quite common that the authorities of various states do not accept conclusions from the experts of the Venice Commission as a guide to action.
In mid-March of this year, on the Change.org website, a petition was filed with an appeal to the Council of Europe to urgently review amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the way they are adopted. It is the Venice Commission that was supposed to give an assessment.
The author of the petition, an expert on constitutional law Stanislav Stanskih then noted that the decisions made by the Venice Commission were advisory in nature, but its conclusion would allow documenting violations related to the amendments and their adoption.
The Council of Europe then agreed to look into the matter, although the conclusions from the Venice Commission do not apply to all the amendments that are going to be submitted to the nationwide vote on July 1.
According to most recent opinion polls conducted in Russia, two-thirds of Russians (67%) are ready to take part in the vote on constitutional amendments to be held on July 1.
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