“And if he painted the walls there?” – Newspaper Kommersant No. 83 (7045) from 05/19/2021

The State Duma adopted in the first reading amendments introducing a temporary ban on elections to parliament for citizens involved in the activities of organizations recognized by the court as extremist or terrorist. Earlier, the bill was criticized by representatives of the legal community, the parliamentary opposition and even the chairman of the Federation Council committee on constitutional legislation Andrei Klishas. The main claim was that the law introduces a restriction for citizens for actions that were not considered an offense at the time of their commission – that is, it is retroactive, which is contrary to the Constitution. The authors of the amendments calmly objected that there were no contradictions.

Presenting the bill at the plenary session on May 18, one of its co-authors, United Russia (ER) deputy Andrei Alshevskikh reminded the deputies that Art. 55 of the Constitution allows restricting human rights and freedoms “to the extent necessary in order to protect the foundations of the constitutional order, morality, health, rights and legitimate interests of others, to ensure the country’s defense and state security.” According to Mr. Alshevskikh, now in Russia 83 organizations are recognized as extremist, 33 as terrorist, and almost 11 thousand people are considered to be involved in terrorism. “If these people come to the elections as candidates, they thereby discredit the principles of a legal democratic state,” said Mr. Alshevskikh. He noted that the practice of restricting passive electoral rights exists in other countries as well.

We will remind that amendments to the law on elections of deputies of the State Duma on May 4 were introduced by a group of deputies led by the chairman of the commission to investigate the facts of interference in internal affairs Vasily Piskarev (ER). The amendments introduce a ban for up to five years on elections to the State Duma for citizens involved in the activities of organizations recognized as extremist. This status is currently being sought by the prosecutor’s office for the regional headquarters of Alexei Navalny and the two funds he created, which had already been entered from the register of foreign agents.

The ban on election applies not only to leaders and ordinary participants, but also to those who provided the organization with financial or “other” assistance.

At the same time, the law may be retroactive: those who led organizations for three years prior to the discovery of their extremist nature, and those who were their ordinary employees within a year before that, may lose the right to be elected.

Meanwhile, Art. 54 of the Constitution reads: “No one can be held responsible for an act that at the time of its commission was not recognized as an offense.”

Last Friday, Senator Andrei Klishas called for the document to be finalized, since the right to vote and to be elected belongs to the constitutional rights of citizens and can only be limited “if there is a clear legislative basis and the principle of legal certainty is observed.” According to his press service, the position of Mr. Klishas was reflected in the conclusion of the Federation Council committee on constitutional legislation and state construction, sent to the State Duma. However, on Tuesday, Olga Savastyanova (ER), chairman of the State Duma Committee on Control and Regulation, told Kommersant that they had not received Mr. Klishas’s response there.

The possible retroactive effect of the ban on election became the main topic of discussion at the plenary session of the Duma. The question was raised by the deputy of the Communist Party faction Aleksey Kurinny, but Mr. Alshevskikh replied that he did not see any violations. “And what does Art. 54 of the Constitution? – Asked the deputy head of the faction “Fair Russia” Valery Gartung. – Or the 49th article, which says that a person can be considered guilty only by a court verdict? You deprive a person of the right to be elected, although there was no court decision against him! Maybe he just sent some money to this organization. “

In response, Mr. Alshevskikh only repeated that there are no contradictions with the Constitution in the draft law. Then Vasily Piskarev came to his aid: “It is obvious that as the election campaign approaches, there will be more attempts to interfere in our affairs from abroad, they will be tougher and brighter. Westerners act precisely through those structures that are recognized in our country as either undesirable or extremist. ” Mr. Piskarev also said that the bill does not contradict the Constitution, and even recalled the ruling of the Constitutional Court No. 20-P of October 10, 2013. According to him, it turned out that this decree allows the introduction of a restriction on passive suffrage as a disqualifying obstacle to holding elective office. It should be noted that the resolution of the Constitutional Court deals only with the restriction of the rights of those convicted of grave and especially grave criminal offenses after they have served their sentence, and these restrictions themselves “should be established in accordance with the differentiation of conviction terms.”

Mr. Piskarev asked his colleagues to support the bill.

«We will not support, – Valery Gartung answered him. – The limitation of the constitutional right of a citizen comes when he is involved in the activities of an extremist organization. And what does “involved” mean? And if a citizen painted the walls there or worked as a driver? Moreover, it does not require a judicial establishment of his specific participation. Even at the Nuremberg trials, each Nazi criminals were tried individually ”.

Communist Yuri Sinelshchikov said that the concept of “extremism” in Russian law is still vague: “Many radical statements by opposition politicians fall under these norms. By the way, many statements by representatives of United Russia, even those who sit on our presidium, fall under the signs of extremism. ” The colleague was supported by deputy Sergei Ivanov (LDPR): “A crook and a thief has the right to become a State Duma deputy, and the person who published information about him and the court considered it extremist no longer has such a right.” Then Mr. Ivanov even got personal and recalled that the co-author of the bill, Andrei Isaev (ER), began his political career in the late 1980s as an anarcho-syndicalist.

Nevertheless, the bill was passed by 293 votes to 45. Two abstained, the rest did not vote. Among those who voted against was one member of the United Russia – Moscow deputy Nikolai Gonchar. The second reading is scheduled for May 25.

Ksenia Veretennikova

Communication with unwanted organizations will cost more

The State Duma on Tuesday adopted in the first reading two more bills, introduced on May 4 by members of the Duma commission to combat foreign interference in Russian affairs.

The first of them introduces a ban on citizens’ participation in the activities of undesirable organizations abroad. As stated in the explanatory note, the commission knows the facts of the participation of Russians in foreign trainings, where they are taught to influence the elections, organize riots and unauthorized actions. At the plenary session, the head of the commission, Vasily Piskarev, explained that these projects are being implemented through “a network of strong points along the perimeter of our country – in Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Georgia, and so on.” As a result, 311 deputies voted for the document, one against, and three abstained.

The second bill introduces changes to Art. 284.1 of the Criminal Code (carrying out activities of an undesirable organization). Participation in its work will face punishment up to imprisonment for up to four years (if the citizen had previously incurred administrative responsibility for this), and for leadership – up to six years. Now for both compositions there is one punishment (up to six years), but only if previously the person was brought to administrative responsibility twice during the year.

The partial rejection of the administrative prejudice drew criticism from the Supreme Court: in its response, it indicated that for this, according to the Duma regulations, the authors must provide a reasoned justification, which was not done. And the deputy Yury Sinelshchikov (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) noted that, according to judicial statistics, until 2019 there were practically no such cases, last year there was one case, and therefore everything here is not so scary as we are told here. Nevertheless, 300 people voted for the bill, 45 against, two abstained.

Ksenia Veretennikova

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