2021.03.29 10:03

Lithuania seeks expulsion of Russia, Belarus from Europe’s network of constitutional courts

BNS2021.03.29 10:03

In response to Lithuania's request, the Conference of European Constitutional Courts (CECC) will consider removing Belarusian and Russian representatives from the organisation during its next sitting.

"The European conference is based on the principles that only independent courts can be its members,” Dainius Žalimas, president of Lithuania's Constitutional Court, told BNS on Friday.

"Judging from the rulings, obviously, they do not follow these principles and in fact are acting against them,” he added.

Žalimas proposed to consider the two countries’ membership in the network for their politicised rulings.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has sent out diplomatic notes to the Constitutional Courts of almost all countries, warning that "we should not dare to consider this issue at all as that runs counter to the cooperation and similar spirit", according to Žalimas.

"I cannot remember a single case when a political institution would directly interfere with the activity of the CECC," he said.

According to Žalimas, Russia’s Constitutional Court issued a ruling justifying the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014, thus violating the principles of the rule of law and internal law.

"It’s an unprecedented case as never before any Constitutional Court in the world had been involved in such an activity," he said.

The Constitutional Court ignored the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to release Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of the Kremlin, and the court also justified constitutional amendments to allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to serve two more terms.

Persecution of opposition in Belarus

Meanwhile, the Belarusian Constitutional Court has endorsed the Law on Mass Events and the related articles of the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offences.

"Because of this act specifically, I am proposing to remove the Belarusian Constitutional Court as an associate member of the CECC," Žalimas said.

The Belarusian top court also confirmed the results of the clearly rigged presidential election, he added.

The court has also declared the Coordination Council as “unconstitutional”, which was the last possible instrument for Belarusian civil society under the existing circumstances, Žalimas said.

The Coordination Council was established by Svetlana Tikhanovksaya, the frontrunner against Alexander Lukashenko in the presidential election last year, and the country’s opposition and cultural figures to facilitate a transition of power.

The council was later outlawed by Lukashenko’s regime.

"The position of the Belarusian Constitutional Court had an impact on the fact that members of the Coordination Council [and] participants of peaceful gatherings are persecuted," Žalimas said.

Read more: Can Lithuania put Belarusian regime officers behind bars?