Territorial boundaries and boundaries of constitutionality: in the text and context of the Judgment of the Russian Constitutional Court dated December 6, 2018, No. 44-P

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Author: Armen Dzhagaryan

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2019-1-107-121

Keywords: constitutional justice; federalism; local government; territorial delimitation; territorial self-determination


The inspection of acts and laws on the approval of the border between the Republic of Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic, conducted by the Russian Constitutional Court in judgment No. 44-P of December 6, 2018, caused much discussion. The high degree of concentration of sociopolitical interests in this matter, associated with the elimination of long-term uncertainty surrounding the issue of borders between these two territories of the Russian Federation, which gave rise to complex social problems and potential threats of interethnic conflicts, as well as the seriousness of the situation that preceded the submission of this case to the Constitutional Court, allow one to characterize the sensitivity of the situation in which the Constitutional Court found itself. The categorical nature of the position previously expressed on the same subject by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Ingushetia indicated a possible conflict of jurisdictions, which the Constitutional Court was also forced to overcome. The Constitutional Court was faced with the challenge of matching the constitutional values of democratic legitimacy and territorial certainty, as well as clarifying the limits of constitutional judicial federalism. Regarding the issue of specific regional contradictions, the judgment has, of course, an important conceptual and methodological significance for the development of Russian federalism, including its territorial, organizational, and judicial aspects. The judgment raised debatable questions about the relationship between the categories of establishing and changing the boundaries of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, the relationship of state-territorial and municipal-territorial transformations, the possibility and need for federal organs of state power to participate in the process for establishing borders of territories of the Russian Federation and using regional referendums in order to establish these borders, and about the competence of regional constitutional jurisprudence in its relationship with federal constitutional control. Discussing positions expressed by the Constitutional Court that can be assessed ambiguously, the author proceeds from the fact that the constitutional legal coordinates system formed by the Decree determines the long-term conditions for resolving territorial issues, which to some extent should be implemented in regulatory and law-enforcement practice. In this regard, the judgment is subjected to analysis with a focus on its constructive social effects.

About the author: Armen Dzhagaryan – Doctor of Sciences in Law, Сounselor, “Muranov, Chernyakov and Partners” attorneys collegium, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Dzhagaryan A. (2019) Territorial'nyye granitsy i granitsy konstitutsionnosti: v tekste i kontekste Postanovleniya Konstitutsionnogo Suda RF ot 6 dekabrya 2018 goda №44-P [Territorial boundaries and boundaries of constitutionality: in the text and context of the Judgment of the Russian Constitutional Court dated December 6, 2018, No.44-P]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.28, no.1, pp.107–121. (In Russian).