The Russian Constitutional Court versus the European Court of Human Rights: How the Strasbourg Court Should Respond to Russia’s Refusal to Execute ECtHR Judgments


The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Council of Europe face significant enforcement problems regarding Russia. These problems stem from Russia’s resistance towards implementing EC- tHR judgments. This resistance was formalized by a 2015 Russian law which granted the Russian Constitutional Court the power to review international human rights rulings to decide if they violate the Russian Constitution and are therefore “non-executable.” In April 2016, the Russian Constitutional Court used this power to refuse to implement the ECtHR judgment against Russia in the case of Anchugov and Gladkov v. Russia. This 2015 law and the Russian Constitutional Court’s subsequent ruling represents a significant development in how Russia views international law. Moreover, Russia’s actions pose a major problem for the legitimacy and future of the ECtHR. This Note examines the Russian Constitution’s treatment of international law and the broader context of Russian legal compliance with ECtHR judgments. By examining these relationships, this note seeks to determine the significance of Russia’s recent decisions and guide the Council of Europe and the ECtHR’s response go- ing forward. This note finds that, while Russian non- compliance with the ECtHR is not new, Russia’s re- cent actions against ECtHR judgments nevertheless pose a threat to the European Convention on HumanRights (ECHR) system. Therefore, the Council of Eu- rope and the ECtHR should assert the supremacy of the ECHR over Russian domestic law utilizing every mechanism within the current Council of Europe and ECHR framework. However, in doing so, this Note recommends that the Council of Europe and the EC- tHR acknowledge Russia’s position and, when possible, avoid further contradiction between ECtHR judgments and Russian constitutional law.

56 Colum. J. Transnat'l L. 172