Europe

Russia passes law to overrule European human rights court

  • 4 December 2015
  • From the section Europe
Russian Constitutional Court Image copyright AP
Image caption The Russian constitutional court will have the right to declare international court orders unenforceable

Russia has adopted a law allowing it to overrule judgements from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The vote in the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, came the same day as the ECHR ruled against Russia's Federal Security Service over spying.

The European court said Russia had violated privacy rights with a system to secretly intercept mobile phone communications.

The Russian constitution takes precedence under the new Duma law.

The measure was fast-tracked, giving the constitutional court the right to declare international court orders unenforceable in Russia if they contradict the constitution.

It specifically aims to "protect the interests of Russia" in the face of decisions by international bodies responsible for ruling on human rights, according to Tass news agency.

Also on Friday, the ECHR ordered Russia to pay Roman Zakharov, editor-in-chief of a publishing company, €40,000 (£29,000) in expenses in a case over state spying.

It agreed with Mr Zakharov that Russia's FSB security service had violated his rights to privacy by installing secret surveillance systems, and denying him the ability to resist potential monitoring.

Russia ratified the European Convention on Human Rights in 1998, and is one of 47 member states in the Council of Europe, which monitors compliance with the convention. This year Russia contributed nearly €33m to the CoE's €306m budget.

But Russia has often taken issue with rulings against it, including one by the ECHR last year ordering Moscow to pay more than $2bn (£1.3bn; €1.8bn) in compensation to shareholders in the defunct Russian oil firm, Yukos.

In a separate development on Friday, Hungarian prosecutors said they had questioned a Hungarian MEP suspected of spying on EU institutions for Russia.

Chief Prosecutor Imre Keresztes said Bela Kovacs, a member of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party, denied the spying allegations and made a case for his defence.

The European Parliament lifted Mr Kovacs' immunity in October, which Jobbik said would help clear the MEP's name.

Investigators have until 20 December to bring charges, according to reports.

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