11 E. Eur. Const. Rev. 95 (2002)
Implementing Russian Constitutional Court Decisions

handle is hein.journals/eeurcr11 and id is 95 raw text is: Implementing Russian Constitutional Court Decisions
Alexei Trochev

This is the struggle between two visions of the
Russian Constitutional Court functions. 1
-Oleg Utkin, member of the Russian parliament
n     2001, Russian    president Vladimir Putin
continued with the reform of Russia's mechanisms
of governance. While most of his judicial-reform
proposals seek to enhance the accountability of
Russian courts, several changes to the Russian
Constitutional Court statute clarify the procedures for
carrying out the Court's decisions. These implemen-
tation amendments come under the aegis of Putin's
dictatorship of law, all with the purpose of ensuring
the enforcement of federal laws in the Russian regions.
Unlike Boris Yeltsin, the second Russian president has
no wish to tolerate regional violations of federal laws,
clearly wanting to secure the regions' overall compli-
ance and thus the Federation's integrity. The aim of
these amendments was to oblige the regional authori-
ties to repeal or alter legislation found unconstitutional
and to provide sanctions for the failure to implement
Russian Constitutional Court decisions.
Legally, these amendments represent an attempt
to accommodate Constitutional Court rulings to the
civil-law system, which does not recognize judge-
made law. Whereas in common-law countries no
government body will apply a legal rule declared
unconstitutional by the courts, civil-law systems lack
this automatic compliance with court declarations of
unconstitutionality. Moreover, because of Russia's
totalitarian legacy, much government business is done
via executive decrees and regulations, which techni-
cally remain on the books even after they have been

found unconstitutional. This is because such regula-
tions can be repealed only by the agencies that issued
them; thus the bureaucracy continues to apply
unconstitutional norms until federal or regional
executive bodies rescind the offending rules. Russia's
federal structure also complicates the implementation
of Constitutional Court decisions, since some regions
contest their applicability to regional laws. The 2001
amendments to the Constitutional Court statute
specify the institutions responsible for repealing
unconstitutional norms, the timeline for responding to
Court rulings, and the penalties for the failure to
implement them in a timely fashion.
Politically, improving the implementation of
Constitutional Court decisions will grant federal
authorities more control over regional leaders and, at
the same time, make the Russian government more
responsive to Constitutional Court rulings. This could
lead to a more powerful federal Constitutional Court as
it defines Russia's constitutional order. But that prospect
is not clear cut. In the future, the government's respon-
siveness may turn out to be a mere fa~ade for initiating
an additional phase of extrajudicial confirmation of the
validity of the Court's decisions, thus undermining their
finality if only implicitly. In other words, the emphasis
on responsiveness may produce an expectation that the
Court's judgments do not carry any weight by them-
selves and that they acquire legal force only after the
response of federal and regional authorities.
The process of adopting these implementation
amendments was complicated and, for the Court,
perilous. What became apparent was a struggle

WINTER/SPRING 2002                                                                                            95

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