Russian lawmakers vote to override rulings by international rights courts

1st December 2015, Comments 0 comments

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday backed a bill allowing Moscow to reject decisions made by international rights courts, a move that paves the way for the country to snub the European Court of Human Rights.

Deputies in the Kremlin-loyal Duma overwhelmingly voted for the legislation to give the Constitutional Court the power to reject international rulings deemed at odds with the country's national interests.

The legislation still needs to be voted on twice more and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has often been disgruntled with international court rulings against it, including the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR), which ordered Moscow to pay some 1.9 billion euros ($2 billion) to shareholders of the now-defunct oil giant Yukos.

The country last month legalised the seizure of foreign governments' property on its soil in a tit-for-tat move as former Yukos shareholders sought to seize Russia's assets abroad following Moscow's refusal to pay the compensation ordered by European courts.

In July, Russia's Constitutional Court had ruled that Russian law takes precedence over the ECHR's decisions.

State Duma deputy Vyacheslav Lysakov, deputy head of the parliamentary committee on constitutional law, told AFP such legislation was needed to help Russia safeguard its national interests.

"Fulfilling national interests and ensuring national security are our country's priorities," Lysakov said, adding that the ECHR's decision on the Yukos case had been "extremely politicised".

"The law needs to allow the government to defend its rights if a decision by an international body goes against national interests."

Opposition lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov, one of only three parliamentarians who voted against the bill, warned it would allow Moscow to selectively apply international law.

"In Europe, they are thinking how best to comply with international law," Gudkov wrote in a Facebook post ahead of the vote. "And here -- we think about how to get around it."

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© 2015 AFP

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