Russia’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday began to consider complaints filed by parliamentarians of the State Duma and opposition leader Eduard Limonov. They oppose new rules for organizing rallies and street protests. Parliamentarians disagree with higher fines for any violations related to rallies. Limonov spoke out against the rules banning persons who were earlier brought to administrative responsibility to organize rallies.
The complaints filed by a group of parliamentarians from the Communist Party and A Fair Russia and controversial writer and opposition leader Eduard Limonov proved to be a reason for considering the law on rallies and were consolidated by the Constitutional Court into a single case, the Novye Izverstiya reported.
The court studies the constitutionality of the new law on rallies that entered into force on June 9 thus significantly raising fines for violations at rallies. The law also bans citizens who were brought to administrative responsibility twice during 12 months to act as organizers of any public events. The court will pronounce its verdict in several weeks.
Closing statements of the sides caused mutual accusations and unconstitutional calls, the Kommersant business daily wrote. Plaintiffs described positions of representatives of the executive authorities as “sinister, awful and vicious” accusing officials of making calls “not to observe the laws” and “not to listen either to the opposition, regions or protesters.” The State Duma’s envoy to the Constitutional Court, Dmitry Vyatkin, retorted that his calls “not to turn the Constitutional Court into a political platform” were not heard as well. The last argument in support of tougher measures was a statement by a United Russia member saying that after the law entered into force “in contrast to growing violations the number of rallies did not decline.”
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported that before the trial the opposition considered an opportunity to recuse the chairman of the Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin. It planned to bring a non confidence motion against the presiding judge and as a result demand his recusal, first of all, over the violations of allegedly ethic bans and restrictions that are effective for the country’s higher judges. One of the bans unambiguously fixed in Article 11 of the constitutional law states that giving media interviews and speaking to any audience a judge has no right to express his/her point of view that may become a subject on trial at the Constitutional Court. Zorkin has repeatedly in some newspaper interviews criticized “the Bolotnaya opposition” (named after the rally on Bolotnaya Square), whose actions – as it had been repeatedly mentioned at different levels of power – forced the toughening of the law on rallies.