Preliminary constitutional control of laws in the constitutional history of Russia: has there been continuity?

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Author: Irina Galyaeva

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2022-1-164-183

Keywords: preliminary constitutional control; preliminary constitutional review; Russian constitutional reform 2020; Governing Senate of the Russian Empire; Supreme Court of the USSR (1924–1933); Committee on Constitutional Review of the USSR; Constitutional Court of RSFSR; Constitutional Court of Russia; regional constitutionals (charter) courts; constitutional (charter) councils under regional legislative government bodies


Ascertainment of the historical basis of the 2020 Constitutional reforms is as important as studying the constitutional amendments themselves. In this connection it’s necessary to evaluate the experience of the functioning of preliminary constitutional control, authority for which is vested in the Constitutional Court of Russia. This research provides two main conclusions. First, even if this kind of control or review had been regulated by law, it was not exercised, either by the Governing Senate of the Russian Empire or the Committee of Constitutional Review of the USSR. Second, in the Soviet and Post-Soviet history of Russia there were cases of using preliminary constitutional control as special non-judicial methods of overseeing laws’ constitutionality, with control exercised by standing commissions of Soviet representative bodies and then formal preliminary oversight of laws exercised by the President of Russia in the 1990s). However, in Russia’s latest constitutional history this institution is not favored. There has been the direct prohibition of preliminary constitutional control in regard to the Constitutional Court of the RSFSR, the judiciary’s negative attitude towards this institution during drafting of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, and the established practice of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation on the inadmissibility of preliminary control of federal and regional laws. At the level of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, despite the establishment of a sufficient number of constitutional (charter) courts and their relatively long-term activity, their preliminary constitutional control of the laws of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation has not happened. After the constitutional reform of 2020, preliminary non-judicial control or review of the laws of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation can be implemented when constituent entities of the Russian Federation create constitutional (charter) councils attached to regional legislative government bodies, but delineation by the Russian Constitutional Court of the relevant competence will be required. Concerning the factors reviewed here, it appears that preliminary constitutional control as introduced in our country does not have a historical basis in relation to our institutions. Moreover, it appears that the strong negative attitude to preliminary constitutional review that exists in our country can preclude its broad implementation.

About the author: Irina Galyaeva – postgraduate student of the Faculty of Law, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Galyaeva I. (2022) Institut predvaritel'nogo konstitutsionnogo kontrolya zakonov v konstitutsionnoy istorii Rossii: est' li preemstvennost'? [Preliminary constitutional control of laws in the constitutional history of Russia: has there been continuity?]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 164–183. (In Russian).


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