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Constitutional Court of Russia refuses to repeal law on ‘discrediting’ the army

Source: Meduza

The Constitutional Court of Russia rejected claims that the law on “discrediting” the Russian Army is unconstitutional, refusing to repeal the law.

A coalition of lawyers from the human rights groups OVD Info, Memorial, and Russia Behind Bars, and others filed a complaint about the law. In total, the coalition filed 23 complaints with the court from people who were fined for “discrediting the army” after they publicly expressed anti-war positions. The complaint calls the law on “discrediting” discriminatory, saying it violates citizens’ constitutional rights to freedom of expression, conscience, and assembly. 

OVD Info writes that the Constitutional Court published refusals to hear 13 cases, including jailed opposition leader Ilya Yashin’s. Another 10 cases are still under consideration. 

In its rulings, the Constitutional Court says that societal support is one of the most important conditions for the Russian army’s effectiveness and that criticism and antiwar protest have a “cumulative effect” that reduces the military’s “decisiveness and motivation” and “in fact contributes to the forces arrayed against the interests of the Russian Federation.”

Lawyer Violetta Fitsner, who helped prepare the complaints, called the rulings “a disgrace for the Constitutional Court.” Her colleague, Maria Nemova, said the rulings “confirm that a law about ‘discrediting’ is necessary to suppress criticism of the war and dissent, that only people who support the war may speak on the subject, and those who disagree should keep silent,” adding that the court’s decision is based in “the ideology that has become compulsory in Russia, and not in the Constitution.”

Laws punishing “discrediting the Russian army” appeared in the country’s administrative and criminal codes (where a violation is punishable by up to seven years in prison) shortly after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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