Russia's Supreme Court has upheld Vladimir Putin's executive decree that classifies information about peacetime military deaths.
The order, signed on May 28, 2015, had been disputed in a class action lawsuit filed by journalists and civic activists. Ivan Pavlov, the lawyer who represented the group, argued that the “Law on State Secrets” does not list peacetime military deaths as a type of classified information. In addition, he maintained that this law does not allow the state to classify information about emergency situations that may be harmful for the safety or health of Russian citizens.
During the Supreme Court hearings, it was disclosed that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is the official who initiated Putin's decree.
Before Putin’s May 28 decree, only military deaths during wartime were classified as a state secret.
After Putin signed the decree, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the new regulations had nothing to do with the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He also said that Putin is not preparing to give any orders for military action in the near future.
The US State Department has said the decree is an attempt to cover up the deaths of Russian soldiers fighting alongside separatists in Ukraine.
To read Ivan Pavlov’s explanation of the lawsuit, see ‘The Kremlin gets a monopoly on truth’: A lawyer sets out to challenge Putin’s decree classifying Russian military deaths