ASSEMBLIES, MEETINGS, DEMONSTRATIONS, MARCHES & PICKETING OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

OPINION ON ASSEMBLIES, MEETINGS, DEMONSTRATIONS, MARCHES AND PICKETING OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION


Venice Commission Opinion By Richard Clayton QC

Introduction

By a letter dated 19 December 2011, the President of the Monitoring Committee of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe asked the Venice Commission to provide an
opinion on, inter alia, the Federal Law on assemblies, meetings, demonstrations, marches and
pickets of the Russian Federation (CDL-REF(2012)010, hereinafter “the Assembly Law”). The
Monitoring Committee refers specifically to its concern relating to “the ambiguous provisions
allowing for the refusal to authorise demonstrations”. This opinion focuses on this issue.

Mr Richard Clayton, Ms Finola Flanagan and Mr Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem were appointed
as rapporteurs. They travelled to Moscow on 9 and 10 February 2012 and met with
representatives of the Ministry of the Interior and of the Council of Federation of the Federal
Assembly of the Russian Federation, with the Ombudsman, with the Institute for Legislation and
Comparative Law under the government of the Russian Federation and with representatives of
the civil society. The working group found useful information in the Comments of the Russian
Federation on the letter of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights on ensuring
the right to freedom of assembly in the Russian Federation.

The present opinion is based on an unofficial English translation of the Russian Assembly
Law. The translation may not accurately reflect the original version on all points and,
consequently, certain comments can be due to problems of translation. Further, the law under
consideration is a Federal Law, which is to be complemented by legislation of the relevant
subjects of the Russian Federation. The Venice Commission has not examined such acts of the
subjects of the Federation. It recalls that it is the task of the Federal level to ensure that such
acts are in full compliance with the international obligations of the Russian Federation, in
particular the European Convention of Human Rights.

In addition, the law under consideration often refers to other legal acts, that were not at hand of the Venice Commission and are therefore not in the scope of this opinion. This holds as well for the sanctions regime established in the Penal Code, the Administrative Code etc


A copy of the full opinion is here.  

7 March 2012

Richard Clayton QC