Top investigator seeks primacy of Russian law

RIA Novosti / Alexey Panov
The head of Russia’s Investigative Committee has stated that Russian laws should take precedence over international legal acts and blamed the US for imposing the reverse situation.

On Tuesday Aleksandr Bastrykin suggested changing the Russian Constitution so as to exclude it from recognizing the precedence of international laws in an interview published by the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta. He said that the principle of the superiority of international law over domestic had been added to Russian legislation back in 1993 with the strong backing of US advisors, who helped Boris Yeltsin and his allies in building the new state.

I think it was under their influence that the provisions of automatic implementation of international norms into Russian legal practice and the priority of the former became included in the chapter on the basis of Russian constitutional order,” Bastrykin said. He went on to call this move a possible act of legislative sabotage against Russia.

Even a quick analysis of these principles allows for the conclusion that they have no place in the mentioned chapter [of the Russian Constitution] because they do not directly define the constitutional order of the state. This was done only to give these provisions an unshakeable legal power, I would even say to artificially seal it within the foundation of our state,” Russia’s top investigator added.

Bastrykin also said that despite imposing the supremacy of international law on Russia, the United States itself was not following this principle in their legal system.

Article 6 of the US Constitution provides that in case of a clash between the norms of an international treaty and an internal law of equal legal power they use the act that last came into force. This allows the US authorities to easily stop the powers of international law simply by passing a corresponding internal bill. And despite overriding international treaties through this trick the US formally remains a party in these treaties,” he said.

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The top Russian investigator said that the primacy of international law was not recognized as valid or was only partially implemented in the United Kingdom and some other countries that use the Anglo-Saxon (precedent) legal system. Nations such as Brazil and India simply consider national law as taking precedent, Bastrykin said.

He then suggested eliminating the principle that makes international law an integral part of the Russian legal system, changing the Constitution so as to introduce the priority of the national law. Every conflict between international and national laws must be resolved by the Constitutional Court in separate cases, Bastrykin added.

The investigator also suggested that in cases when an international treaty contradicts Russian domestic laws the parliament should withdraw from this treaty in full or in part, or make changes to the national laws. He says these reforms should be implemented as soon as possible.

In this difficult period the Russian Society is consolidated like never before and most importantly the society now understands that the time for constitutional reform is ripe. This is why I believe that gradually, step by step, these ideas will be implemented into life in the interests of our sovereignty and prosperity,” he concluded.