Russia’s challenge and the vision of the future
On December 5, a conference entitled Constitution of 1993: Russia’s Challenge and the Vision of the Future was held at the Presidential Academy, organized by RANEPA and the Association of Lawyers of Russia and dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Russian Constitution.
The experts discussed the Russian Constitution’s role and place in the modern legal social welfare state, its potential and importance for the country’s further development. The panelists evaluated the relevance of the concepts implemented in the sphere of justice to global challenges and digital society. New ideas and conceptual approaches in international relations were also considered.
The conference was opened by RANEPA Rector Vladimir Mau, who thanked the Association of Lawyers of Russia (ALR) and its Chairman, Vladimir Gruzdev, as well as Director of RANEPA Institute of Public Administration and Civil Service Igor Bartsits and Director of RANEPA Institute of Law and National Security Stanislav Mogilevsky for the initiative to hold the event. “It would be interesting to evaluate the path the country has traveled since the Constitution was adopted, and it looks far ahead into a post-industrial society. The basic law of the state, which is currently in force, establishes the framework, not specific socio-economic mechanisms, and this is its great advantage. The constitution should also reflect traditions,” Vladimir Mau said.
The Rector of the Presidential Academy thanked the foreign participants and announced another important event during the Constitutional Week, the international conference, The Spanish Constitution of 1978: Lessons from History and Prospects for Development, which will open at the Academy on December 13.
In his remarks, Vladimir Gruzdev reminded the audience that the current Constitution of the Russian Federation was drafted amid a most severe socio-economic crisis, and invited the speakers to share their views on what happened while this constitution was in force.
Former Chairman of the Russian Constitutional Court (1997-2003) Marat Baglai underscored the importance of the constitution remaining unchanged. “Those who wrote the 1993 Constitution looked far ahead. I believe in its future,” the expert stressed.
Constitutional Court judge Gadis Khadzhiyev made a report Constitution 25 Years Later: Converting Expectations and Hopes into Experience. He spoke about the changes in the judiciary and understanding of law that followed the adoption of the current Constitution. He called subjectivism and voluntarism the greatest enemies of law, noting that courts act situationally. Constitutional law offers no interpretation of the priority of one or another type of law. “The court, deriving from the Constitution, adheres to the established norms of social order,” the speaker said.
Deputy Prime Minister in 1994-1996, Plenipotentiary Representative of the President in the Constitutional Court in 1996-1998 Sergei Shakhrai, a co-author of the current Constitution, raised the problem of correlating the Constitution with real life. “A deep socio-political upheaval can lead to inconsistencies, and then either the basic law or the reality would need to be changed,” the expert said. The 1993 Constitution was adopted as a plan for the future; it was part of a large-scale policy of developing a new statehood and a new social order. Today, according to Shakhrai, reality is beginning to diverge from the constitutional model.
Charge d'affaires of Spain in the Russian Federation, Mr. Ignacio García-Valdecasas, noted that the Constitution should take into account the opinion of the entire population and be open to change.
ALR co-chairman Pavel Krasheninnikov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Statehood Development and Legislation, discussed the Constitutions of 1917 and 1993. Soviet and Russian lawyer, judge of the European Court of Human Rights in 1998-2012 Anatoly Kovler made a presentation The European Convention on Human Rights and the Russian Constitution: The Problem of Compatibility. His report covered the discussion about the relationship between national and international law and the unification of law as a global trend. The ALR has awarded both Anatoly Kovler and Igor Bartsits the Lawyer of the Year title.
The Constitution as a means of development of law was considered by judge of the European Court of Human Rights Dmitry Dedov. Pascal Cauchy, Professor at Sciences Po, France, and Attaché for University Cooperation at the French Embassy in Russia, presented the report Transition from the Constitution of the Fourth French Republic to the Constitution of the Fifth French Republic.
Public activist, People’s Deputy in 1990–1993, member of the Supreme Soviet of Russia, Executive Secretary of the Constitutional Commission Oleg Rumyantsev spoke about Constitution of Russia: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Merited Scientist of the Russian Federation, author of numerous publications on various issues of constitutional law Suren Avakyan also spoke at the conference. Deputy Director of the Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Andrei Gabov concluded the discussion.