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Constitutional Court to consider complaints about ‘criminal filter’ for electoral candidates

11 March 2013 

Source: (info)
Five businessmen who ran for mayor or MP in various regions of Russia in autumn 2012 and had their registration withdrawn by the election commissions or courts have applied to the Constitutional Court, reports Kasparov.Ru, citing Kommersant.

The candidates in these elections were among the first to fall subject to sub-clause A of Section 3.2, Article 4, of the law 'On basic guarantees of electoral rights and the rights of citizens in the Russian Federation to participate in a referendum’, amended in May 2012. This rule imposes a lifetime ban on people who have been given a prison sentence for committing serious crimes from taking part in elections at any level.

As Kommersant notes, most of the complaints received by the Constitutional Court about this ban came from businessmen with suspended sentences, whose convictions expired or were expunged long ago.

"Even though I was prosecuted and given a suspended sentence of three years and six months, with a two-year probation, I was not segregated from society and was not placed in a correctional facility," said Grigory Yegorov, one of the applicants.

He noted that the filter contravenes Article 32 of the Constitution, according to which, those "deprived of the right to elect and be elected shall be citizens recognised by court as being legally unfit, as well as citizens kept in places of confinement by a court sentence." He also said that it is a "shining example" of the limitations of human rights on social grounds prohibited by Article 19.”

The amendment being challenged in the Constitutional Court was introduced by a group of senators in the second reading of the draft presidential law on the reinstatement of gubernatorial elections, but went almost unnoticed amidst the scandal surrounding the 'municipal' and 'presidential' filters. Meanwhile the 'criminal filter' was written into the framework law 'On basic guarantees of electoral rights and the rights of citizens in the Russian Federation to participate in a referendum’.

On 27 February the Central Electoral Commission put forward a new bill on elections to the State Duma. The Central Electoral Commission proposed that individuals with serious or very serious criminal convictions should be banned from running as an MP, even if the conviction had already expired.