Constitutional court ruled in favor of human rights defenders

Russian Constitutional court ruled in favor of ADC “Memorial” in its appeal to check the constitutional legality of Article 7 Section 1 of the federal law “On public assemblies, rallies, demonstrations and pickets”.

For consecutive years in 2011-2014 Saint Petersburg city committee on legality and public order refused to legalize antifascist demonstration on January 19 on explicitly formal grounds concerning the periods for provision of notification about the demonstration (the date for notification in due time was during the Christmas holidays). Constitutional court ruled that the federal lawmakers have to introduce changes into legislation for cases when “generally defined periods for notification fall completely on public holiday dates”. From now on and until the corresponding changes are introduced into the law, “notification can be made on the last working day preceding the holiday period or, if that turns out to be impossible, [the officials] are to accept and consider notification about a public assembly on a non-working holiday date”.

Thus the Constitutional court on this particular example of a law on public assemblies has confirmed and developed its legal position regarding impossibility of limiting civil rights based on the peculiarities of work of state bodies and confirmed constitutional principle of priority of human rights, which to our great pity is not always observed in Russia.

Existing order of notifying the authorities at least 15 days before but not less than 10 days before the event prevented antifascists to hold commemorations of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasiya Baburova, who had been killed by neo-Nazis, on January 19 because it was too early before the New Year to present notification for a public assembly and after the end of holiday period it was already too late to do so. Unlawful refusal to legalize the demonstration in 2012 was appealed by the staff of ADC “Memorial” in Smolny district court of Saint Petersburg, but the court ruled down the appeal made by human rights defenders and the city court later confirmed this earlier court decision and left it intact.

The ruling of the Constitutional court of the Russian Federation, which referred to earlier rulings of the European Court for Human Rights (Oya Ataman vs. Turkey on December 5, 2006; Nurettin Aldemir vs. Turkey on December 18, 2007; Molnar vs. Hungary on October 7, 2008; Berladir vs. Russia on July 10, 2012), not only stated the importance of the right for free assembly and unacceptability of its violation without sufficient grounds, but in the end also helped to resolve the problem of organizing demonstrations on January 19 in Saint Petersburg.

Text of the ruling of the Constitutional court regarding the check of constitutional legality of Article 7 Section 1 of the federal law “On public assemblies, rallies, demonstrations and pickets” on the appeal of A.N.Yakimov (in Russian)

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