The 1993 Russian Constitution and 1994 Federal Constitutional Law “On the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation” define the jurisdiction and activity of the Federal Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation. However, these pieces of legislation do not comprehensively address all the issues, and there has been some broadening of the Court's power through interpretation and the effect of some other legislation. This article examines the Court's jurisdiction and some of the issues that arise in the exercise thereof, as well as the relative role of the constitutional or charter courts of the subjects of the Federation, and the relationship between the Constitutional Court and the other courts in the Russian federal system. Issues of the methods of constitutional interpretation are addressed. The importance of the Constitutional Court as the federal agency of constitutional court supervision (review) in ensuring the effective application of the Russian Constitution is highlighted in the context of this growth of a comparatively new branch of law in the Russian legal system.
This paper examines regional constitutional justice in Russia as a microcosm of the struggle for the judicial branch of state power to assert its importance, in particular in relation to separation of powers. We consider the situation of republican constitutional courts and regional charter courts which have been established in some places to oversee compliance with the republican constitution or regional charter. We note that the limited number of these courts contrasts strongly with the widespread institution of the regional ombudsman (plenipotentiary for human rights). We also see that in recent years courts in some regions have encountered a pushback from the other branches of state power. The strength of the resulting defence of the courts’ legal status gives us some cause for optimism that the principles of separation of powers and rule of law are being strongly supported in some regions.