The European Court of Human Rights is more or less the sole entity that has any power to correct some of the more egregious failings of the Russian justice system. Although international leaders frequently criticize Russian events from the sidelines, it’s the ECHR that has the power to send more forceful messages – it has mediated frequently in Chechen complaints against the armed forces over the last decade, and most recently, ruled that Russia was guilty of systemic violations in relation to the jailing of former Yukos executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Which is, of course, why Russia would do anything to avail itself of this external regulating influence (officials frequently complain that ECHR rulings are biased against Russia). And it may get what it wants, if newly proposed legislation from the Federation Council is passed. According to an RFE/RL report
, speaker Aleksandr Torshin has suggested that the Constitutional Court be allowed to override ECHR rulings. If it passes, it will take Russia’s scant remaining shred of EU credibility with it:
This is actually potentially a really big international scandal,” Anna Sevortian, director of Human Rights Watch’s Moscow office, says. “To tell the truth, I believe that if this draft bill is passed, then it effectively equates to reassessing the responsibilities that Russia took upon itself when it signed the European Convention on Human Rights.”
[…] Oleg Orlov, director of the Memorial rights group, says Moscow is seeking to establish a legal loophole that would allow it to sidestep unwanted ECHR rulings on politically charged cases like that of jailed former oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky or attorney Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison after being denied medical attention.
“They anticipate there may be decisions that will be unpleasant for Russia,” Orlov says. “A ruling might touch on some major financial questions. All this means that they need to establish some precedents and some mechanism that could limit the ruling so that they don’t have to carry it out.”