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Constitutional Court lifts ban for convicts to be elected

October 11, 2013, 10:27 UTC+3
The lifetime prohibition for citizens sentenced to imprisonment for serious crimes to run for any-level elections is contradictory to the Constitution
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MOSCOW, October 11 (Itar-Tass World Service). — The lifetime prohibition for citizens sentenced to imprisonment for serious crimes to run for any-level elections is contradictory to the Constitution, since in fact it means cancellation of passive suffrage. The Constitutional Court came to the conclusion on Thursday, satisfying complaints of six entrepreneurs earlier convicted of serious crimes. Thus, the lifetime ban imposed in May 2012 on participation in elections is lifted. Federal legislators must introduce a motivated individual approach to the "criminal filter". The court noted that the unconstitutional regulations should be corrected before the voting day in 2014.

The Constitutional Court ruled that convicts would not be deprived of the right forever and legislators should set clear time limits. The lifetime ban is possible only for convicts sentenced to life imprisonment. The court also agreed that the regulations did not make a difference between real and suspended sentences, did not take into consideration a sentence term length and a nature and a public danger degree of a crime.

It would be right to set down a ban in the law on the right for a definite period as an additional penalty, like the existing ban on the right to hold public office, the Vedomosti cites government representative to courts Mikhail Barshchevsky as saying. For example, a ban for up to 60 years for treason and up to 15 years for disclosure of state secrets. A court may impose such a penalty taking into consideration the crime degree and other circumstances. Such issues are considered individually only by a court, Barshchevsky noted.

The Constitutional Court has annulled the regulations on the lifetime ban, but the decision does not contradict to the current authorities' tactical objectives, the Vedomosti cites lawyer Vadim Prokhorov as saying. If a ban period is linked to conviction, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Alexei Navalny for many years will have no right to participate in elections.

Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin took the "Solomonic" decision, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta believes. It should be mentioned that the euphoria from the court ruling died down shortly after that. The opposition understood that the court just told the authorities how to preserve the criminal filter, and in such a kind that it makes no sense to appeal against it to the court.

Deputy Head of the State Duma Committee for Constitutional Legislation Sergei Ivanov (LDPR) was indignant over the court decision, saying that nothing on the whole was changed — it was banned for lifetime, and now it will be banned for 15-20 years. 

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