Dissenting opinions on the freedom of peaceful assembly

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Author: Alexander Salenko

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2021-3-17-38

Keywords: constitutional amendments; Constitutional Court of Russia; constitutional reform 2020; demonstrations; dissenting opinion; freedom of peaceful assembly; meetings; picketing; public assembly law; rallies; Russian judiciary


The main purpose of the article is to analyze the content of dissenting opinions of the judges of the Constitutional Court of Russia regarding the implementation of freedom of peaceful assembly. The author concluded that in 2009–2020, there were three judgements (postanovlenie) and one decision (opredelenie) by the Constitutional Court of Russia (hereinafter also referred to as the CCR) that were accompanied by dissenting opinions of CCR judges. In 2013, one single judgment of the CCR was accompanied by three dissenting opinions. This research analyzes the six dissenting opinions of the judges of the Russian Constitutional Court, which considered various problematic issues regarding the implementation of freedom of peaceful assembly in the contemporary Russian Federation. The author also analyzes the role and significance of the dissenting opinions in the context of amendments to the Russian Constitution in 2020, and changes in legislation that significantly limited the publicity of dissenting opinions of CCR judges. This article shows the role of dissenting opinions as: a means to raising the level of legal consciousness in society, a guarantee of a fair and open trial, a guarantee of the independence of judiciary and judicial democracy, and a means of improving legislation and law enforcement practice. The author concludes that the CCR judges’ dissenting opinions could in some cases be regarded as “sleeping law”, because the European Court of Human Rights later confirmed the judges’ minority report in findings. The article uses traditional research methods such as analysis, synthesis, induction, deduction, logical method, and comparative legal methods. The author expresses that it is necessary to keep the democratic tradition of constitutional justice, which allowed the publicity of dissenting opinions of CCR judges during 1991–2020. It is also concluded that the dissenting opinions of the Constitutional Court judges enable a deeper understanding of the political and legal nature, features, and main stages of the development of Russian public assembly law, one of direct democracy’s most important institutions alongside elections and referendums. The author argues that dissenting opinions of the judges of the Constitutional Court of Russia make it possible to identify gaps and defects in the legal regulation of public events in Russia.

The study was funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and the Expert Institute for Social Research (EISR) in the framework of the research project no. 20-011-31740.

About the author: Alexander Salenko – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Master of Law (LL.M., Göttingen), Associate Professor of Department of International and European Law at the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Member of the Qualification Board of Judges of the Kaliningrad Region, Kaliningrad, Russia.

Citation: Salenko A. (2021) Osobye mneniya o svobode mirnykh sobraniy [Dissenting opinions on the freedom of peaceful assembly]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.30, no.3, pp.17–38. (In Russian).


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