Constitutional Court of Russia

Coordinates: 59°56′07″N 30°18′05″E / 59.93528°N 30.30139°E / 59.93528; 30.30139
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Constitutional Court of Russia
Конституционный суд Российской Федерации
Established12 July 1991
LocationSaint Petersburg
Composition methodConstitutional court
Authorized byConstitution of Russia
Number of positions11
CurrentlyValery Zorkin

The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation (Russian: Конституционный суд Российской Федерации) is a high court within the judiciary of Russia which is empowered to rule on whether certain laws or presidential decrees are in fact contrary to the Constitution of Russia. Its objective is only to protect the Constitution (in Russian constitutional law this function is known as "constitutional control" or "constitutional supervision") and deal with a few kinds of disputes where it has original jurisdiction, whereas the highest court of appeal is the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.


Before the 1980s in the USSR the importance of judicial supervision over compatibility of legislation and executive actions with the provisions and principles of the constitution was not recognized. It was not until December 25, 1989 when Constitutional Control in the USSR Act was passed, that such "judicial review" was initiated. Accordingly, the Constitutional Supervision Committee was created. It started functioning mid-1990 and was dissolved towards the end of 1991. In December 1990 the Constitution of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) was amended with provisions which provided for creation of Constitutional Court (whereas a similar USSR body was called a Committee, not a Court). On July 12, 1991 Constitutional Court of the RSFSR Act was adopted. In October the Fifth Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian SFSR has elected 13 members of the Court and the Constitutional Court de facto started functioning. From November 1991 till October 1993 it rendered some decisions of great significance. For example, it declared unconstitutional certain decrees of Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, which were adopted ultra vires, and forbade the practice of extrajudicial eviction. More often, however, it declared President Yeltsin's decrees unconstitutional, leading critics to argue it took the side of the Supreme Soviet in the power struggle.

On October 7, 1993 Boris Yeltsin's decree suspended work of the Constitutional Court. According to the decree, the Constitutional Court was "in deep crisis". On December 24 another presidential decree repealed the Constitutional Court of the RSFSR Act itself. In July 1994 the new Constitutional Court Act was adopted. However, the new Constitutional Court started working only in February 1995, because the Federation Council of Russia refused several times to appoint judges nominated by Yeltsin.

Former headquarters of the Constitutional Court in Kitai-gorod of Moscow, by Marian Peretiatkovich and Fyodor Rerberg

In 2005 the federal authorities proposed to transfer the court from Moscow to Saint Petersburg. The transfer, involving controversial allocation of land on Krestovsky Island for cottages of the judges and relocation of the Russian State Historical Archive from the former Senate and Synod Building, now occupied by the court headquarters, had been completed by 2008.

President Dmitry Medvedev on May 8, 2009, proposed to the legislature and on June 2 signed a law for an amendment whereby the chairperson of the court and his deputies would be proposed to the parliament by the president rather than elected by the judges, as was the case before.[1][2]

Constitutional Court Judge Vladimir Yaroslavtsev in an interview to the Spanish newspaper El País published on August 31, 2009, claimed that the presidential executive office and security services had undermined judicial independence in Russia.[3] In October the Constitutional Court in an unprecedented motion accused Yaroslavtsev of "undermining the authority of the judiciary" in violation of the judicial code and forced him to resign from the Council of Judges. Judge Anatoly Kononov, who had frequently dissented from decisions taken by the majority of the court, in his interview to Sobesednik supported Yaroslavtsev, claiming that there was no independent judiciary in Russia and criticized the new amendments concerning appointment of the court chairman as undemocratic.[4] The Constitutional Court forced Kononov to step down from the Constitutional Court on January 1, 2010, 7 years ahead of schedule.[5][6][7]


Some of the judges of the Constitutional Court (including Chairman Valery Zorkin) with President Vladimir Putin, December, 12, 2023

The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation consists of 11 judges, one being the Chairman (currently Valery Zorkin) and another one being Deputy Chairman. The Chairman is responsible for the allocation of cases to chambers, has considerable powers in the matters of appointment, and makes the initial recommendation for disciplinary measures, in particular dismissal.[8]

The judges are nominated by the President and appointed by the Federation Council for 12 years.[9] In order to become a judge of the Constitutional Court a person must be a citizen of Russia, at least 40 years of age, have legal education, have served as a lawyer for at least 15 years and have "recognized high qualification" (quotation from Constitutional Court Act) in law.

The Constitutional Court consists of two chambers with 10 and 9 judges respectively. The Chairman presides over one of the chambers and the Deputy Chairman presides over the other chamber. Constitutionality of laws, disputes concerning competence of governmental agencies, impeachment of the president of Russia and the Constitutional Court's proposals of legislations must be dealt with in plenary session. The Constitutional Court also may by its discretion submit to plenary sessions any other issue.


Certain powers of the Constitutional Court are enumerated in the Constitution of Russia. The Constitutional Court declares laws, presidential and governmental decrees and laws of federal subjects unconstitutional if it finds that they are contrary to the Constitution (i.e. they violate certain rights and freedoms of citizens enumerated in and protected by the Constitution). In such instances, that particular law becomes unenforceable, and governmental agencies are barred from implementing it. Also, before an international treaty is ratified by the State Duma, the constitutionality of the treaty may be observed by the Constitutional Court.[clarification needed] The Constitutional Court is not entitled to judge constitutionality of laws on its own initiative; the law may be submitted to the Constitutional Court by the President of Russia, the government of Russia, the State Duma, the Federation Council of Russia, one-fifth of members of the State Duma or the Federation Council, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, the Supreme Court of Arbitration of Russia, or a legislative body of a Federal subject. Any federal court may request the Constitutional Court to judge on the constitutionality of a law if the law is to be implemented in a case, and a judge of the federal court is in doubt about whether the law is contrary to the Constitution. Also, any private citizen may submit in the Constitutional Court a claim challenging constitutionality of a particular law if that law was implemented in a particular case and thus violated rights of that citizen.

Another power of the Constitutional Court is to resolve disputes concerning competence of governmental agencies. Whenever the President of Russia is impeached, the Constitutional Court renders a resolution concerning complying with the due order of indictment.


The Constitutional Court deals with cases either in chambers or in plenary sessions. All judges must be present unless they are sick or may have interest in the case; they must not abstain from voting on the resolution. Apart from judges, claimant, his representatives and governmental agencies involved are present. In order for resolution or decision to pass two-thirds of judges must be in favor of it.


Current judges[edit]

Judge /
birthdate and place
Alma mater Appointed by Age at start /
Start date /
length of service
Valery Zorkin
February 18, 1943
Konstantinovka, Primorsky Krai
Moscow State University (LL.D.) Congress of People's Deputies of Russia 48 81 October 29, 1991
32 years, 166 days
(Deputy Chairman)
Sergey Mavrin
September 15, 1951
Bryansk, Bryansk Oblast
Saint Petersburg State University Faculty of Law (LL.D.) Vladimir Putin 54 72 February 25, 2005
19 years, 47 days
Viktor Luchin
Lyudmila Zharkova
September 3, 1955
Petrozavodsk, Karelia
Saint Petersburg State University Faculty of Law Boris Yeltsin 41 68 June 11, 1997
26 years, 306 days
Vladimir Tumanov
Sergey Kazantsev
September 16, 1955
Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg)
Saint Petersburg State University Faculty of Law (LL.D.) Vladimir Putin 46 68 March 29, 2002
22 years, 14 days
Tamara Morshchakova
Larisa Krasavchikova
March 21, 1955
Sverdlovsk, Sverdlovsk Oblast (now Yekaterinburg)
Ural State Law University (LL.D.) Vladimir Putin 47 69 February 12, 2003
21 years, 60 days
Nikolay Vitruk
Nikolay Melnikov
May 27, 1955
Irkutsk, Irkutsk Oblast
Rostov State University (LL.D.) Vladimir Putin 49 68 February 25, 2005
19 years, 47 days
Sergey Knyazev
February 15, 1959
Pavlovsky Posad, Moscow Oblast
Far Eastern State University (LL.D.) Dmitry Medvedev 49 65 October 15, 2008
15 years, 180 days
Alexander Kokotov
January 15, 1961
Ufimka, Sverdlovsk Oblast
Ural State Law University (LL.D.) Dmitry Medvedev 49 63 March 3, 2010
14 years, 40 days
Anatoly Kononov
Andrey Bushev
February 12, 1966
Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg)
Saint Petersburg State University Faculty of Law (Ph.D.) Vladimir Putin 56 58 June 8, 2022
1 year, 309 days
Vladimir Yaroslavtsev
Vladimir Sivitsky
October 2, 1974
Moscow State University (Ph.D.) Vladimir Putin 48 49 June 21, 2023
296 days
Konstantin Aranovsky
Mikhail Lobov
February 1, 1971
Chelyabinsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast
Moscow State Institute of International Relations Vladimir Putin 52 53 September 25, 2023
200 days
Gadis Gadzhiev

Presidential Envoys to the Constitutional Court[edit]

Governmental Envoys to the Constitutional Court[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Russian parliament votes to reform judiciary". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 2022-12-12. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  2. ^ "Dmitry Medvedev made amendments to the Federal Constitutional Law On the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation". President of Russia (in Latin). 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  3. ^ Bonet, Pilar (2009-08-31). ""En Rusia mandan los órganos de seguridad, como en la época soviética"". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  4. ^ "Судья Кононов: Независимых судей в России нет | Политика |". Archived from the original on 2009-12-08. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  5. ^ "Конституционный суд теряет особые мнения". Kommersant (in Russian). 2009-12-02. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  6. ^ RFE/RL (2009-12-02). "Top Russian Judges Quit Posts After Critical Comments". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  7. ^ White, Gregory L. (2009-12-03). "Judge Set to Retire Amid Kremlin Row". WSJ. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  8. ^ Despouy, Leandro (23 March 2009). "A/HRC/11/41/Add.2 Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development, Addendum: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers" (PDF). United Nations Human Rights Council. p. 17. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  9. ^ Terrill, Richard J. (2009). World Criminal Justice Systems: A Survey (7 ed.). Elsevier. p. 423. ISBN 978-1-59345-612-2.

External links[edit]

59°56′07″N 30°18′05″E / 59.93528°N 30.30139°E / 59.93528; 30.30139