Putin signs law allowing to overthrow human rights court verdicts

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with Russia's Constitutional Court judges on Dec 14, 2015.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with Russia's Constitutional Court judges on Dec 14, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law allowing the Constitutional Court of Russia to decide whether to fulfil or not the decisions of international human rights courts.

The law, published on Tuesday (Dec 15) on the official government portal of legislative information, enables the Russian high court to overturn decisions of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if it deems them unconstitutional.  

Human Rights Watch has said the law is designed to thwart the ability of victims of human rights violations in Russia to find justice through international bodies.  

The law comes after the ECHR ruled in 2014 that Russia must pay a 1.9 billion euro ($2.94 billion) award to shareholders of the defunct Yukos oil company, a verdict that added to financial pressure on Moscow as it struggles with shrinking revenues due to tumbling oil prices and Western sanctions.

The ECHR said it had received 218 complaints against Russia in 2014 and that it had found 122 cases in which Moscow had violated the European Convention on Human Rights, including the deportation of Georgian citizens in 2006 and the incarceration of defendants in metal cages during Russian court hearings.

Russia’s parliament approved the new Bill last week and Putin signed it into law on Monday.

Valery Zorkin, the head of Russian Constitutional Court, told Putin on Monday that Russia was in favour of “dialogue” in case there was a problem.

“I don’t see any problem there, I think that people are worrying for nothing,” Zorkin said.