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Commissioner's Opinion on Federal Law No.129-FZ as of 23 May 2015 'On Introduction of Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the RF'

25 May 2015
Commissioner's Opinion on Federal Law No.129-FZ as of 23 May 2015 'On Introduction of Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the RF'

A Letter of Opinion of the Commissioner on the Federal Law No. 129-FZ as of 23 May 2015 On Introduction of Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation

The Federal Law No. 129-FZ as of 23 May 2015 On Introduction of Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation introduces an institute of undesirability of foreign and international non-governmental organisations’ activities on the territory of the Russian Federation, in connection therewith amendments to the Federal Law No. 272-FZ as of 28 December 2012 On Measures of Influence on Persons Involved in Violation of Basic Human Rights and Freedoms, Rights and Freedoms of Citizens of the Russian Federation (hereinafter as the Federal Law No. 272-FZ as of 28 December 2012), as well as to other legal acts of the Russian Federation are introduced.

The Federal Law No. 272-FZ as of 28 December 2012 has been amended with a new Article 3(1), according to which activities of a foreign or international non-governmental organisation, posing a threat to the basics of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, defense capability or security of the state, can be acknowledged undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The said status of an organisation (a company) is an entitling one, which in essence means that a ban on activities of the organisation can be imposed on the grounds of an act on acknowledgment of its undesirability on the territory of the Russian Federation.

In addition, pursuant to the new articles: Article 20.33 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation and Article 284(1) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, violation of the ban may result in administrative or even criminal liability for organisers and participants.

However, there are no clear legal criteria defining the status of undesirability of a foreign or international organisation on the territory of the Russian Federation; no legal grounds to acknowledge them as posing a threat to the basics of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, defense capability or security of the state have also been specified.

Only value definitions "adopted" from Part 3 Article 55 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation or, to be more precise, only parts of them have been given. At the same time, it has been failed to take into account that the said values should not themselves be considered to be the grounds for adoption of law-enforcement decisions, since they are given in the Constitution as target goals only. They indeed allow a possibility for a federal law to limit human and civil rights and freedoms, but only if it is necessary; and such necessity should be substantiated (which the Federal Law No. 272-FZ as of 28 December 2012 fails to do).

In this view, amendment of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation with the Article 20.33 and the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation with the Article 284(1) makes it possible for law-enforcement bodies to arbitrary interpret them, which is unacceptable from the constitutional point of view.

No attention has been paid to the fact that according to the stand of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, given in its Resolution No. 14-P as of 13 May 2014 On the Case of Examination of the Constitutionality of Part 1 Article 7 of the Federal Law On Assemblies, Meetings, Demonstrations, Marches, and Picketing, based on the complaint from a citizen, Mr A.Yakimov:

  • "when regulating public relations, a federal legislative body should be bound by constitutional principles of equality, justice and proportionality, which in their turn require formal accuracy, clearness, precision, consistency of legal regulation, mutual agreement of various related norms, as well as adequacy, reasonable sufficiency and proportionality of the legal remedies being used";
  • "the order of implementation of any right, introduced by a legislative body, especially in a public-law sphere, should create conditions for efficient achievement of the social goals and interests expressed in such a right, and should provide a citizen with an opportunity to bring his or her behavior into correlation with the established rules, to reasonably foresee possible consequences of his or her actions; on the contrary, ambiguity, disagreement of legal regulation serve a prerequisite for arbitrary rule and may result in violation of not only the principles of equality and supremacy of law, but also the guarantees for state protection (including judicial one) of civil rights, freedoms and legal interests; in cases when the disagreement, incompleteness, gap-character of legal regulation result in a collision of legal norms and conflict of some constitutional rights executed on the basis thereof, the issue of elimination of such contradiction becomes constitutional".

At the same time, the legal ambiguity of the Article 31 of the Federal Law No. 272-FZ as of 28 December 2012 not only fails to exclude a possibility a decision on undesirability of a foreign or international non-governmental organisation’s activities be arbitrary adopted by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, but, in fact, it implies the above.

Adoption of such decision may also be caused by the possibility to apply the agreement procedure, not yet regulated by law, which provides for the agreement with a federal executive authority that exercises functions related to development and implementation of the state policy and statutory regulation in international relations of the Russian Federation (the MFA of Russia).

The above power of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation violates as well the provisions of the Federal Law No. 2202–1 as of 17 January 1992, according to which the prosecution authorities control implementation of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the laws effective on the territory of the Russian Federation, but do not adopt entitling decisions.

Restrictions stipulated by the Federal Law and implying legal consequences of acknowledging a foreign or international organisation’s activities undesirable influence the scope of constitutional civil and human rights and freedoms, that is why the above status shall be given only by resolution of judicial bodies.

Nonetheless, there is no even a possibility to appeal against a decision on the status of undesirability in court, whereby the constitutional right for judicial protection is violated (Part 1 and 2 Article 46 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation).

In this view, Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia Ella Pamfilova is seriously concerned about the correspondence of the Federal Law No. 129-FZ as of 23 May 2015 On Introduction of Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

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