Putin's Russia outlaws ECHR judgments after mass surveillance case

Lower house says gov can ignore inconvenient European rulings

Russia's lower legislative house has passed a law letting its government ignore European Court of Human Rights judgments after the ECHR ruled the nation's internet surveillance was incompatible with human rights.

The unrestricted interception of all telecommunications in Russia is conducted through the mandatory installation of government network-sniffing equipment.

A legal challenge brought against this in 2003 finally resulted in an ECHR judgment last Friday.

However, a law passed on Friday through the Duma, the lower house of Russia's legislature, states that the nation's constitution is to take precedence before judgments or obligations imposed by international bodies.

Though passed on the same day as the most recent ECHR judgment, it is thought to be the product of many such judgments against Russia.

"In passing the law, the Duma has provided the court with 'a special legal mechanism for resolving the question of the possibility or impossibility of executing [international] court rulings from the point of view of the higher legal force of the Russian constitution,'" said the Moscow Times, quoting state propaganda outlet RIA Novosti.

The Moscow Times further reported that a federal body which represents the nation's interests "in international court cases" will be able to appeal to the Russian constitutional court, as well as allowing for the president – currently Vladimir Putin – to appeal against such rulings.

The Register has contacted the Council of Europe's directorate of communications to enquire about the future of Russia's membership, considering the legal room it is affording itself to ignore ECHR judgments. We will update this article if we receive a response. ®

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