Values of the Russian Constitution in its text and in practice of its interpretation

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Author: Sergey Belov

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2019-4-68-83

Keywords: Constitutional Court of Russia; constitutional values; hierarchy of values; human rights; liberalism; social solidarity; Конституция России 1993 года


This article questions the opinion prevailing in the contemporary literature that the Russian Constitution of 1993 has predominantly liberal character. Author researches the original intent of the authors of main draft of the Constitution (sequentially liberal) and tries to understand to what extent their ideas were realized in the final text, presented for the people’s voting in December 1993. One of the authors, Sergei Alekseev, made an assessment that the text prepared with his participation, was later distorted due to political circumstances. Another of authors, Sergei Shakhray, justified this change of the concept by the inertia of legal tradition, which preserved some ideas and principles from the Soviet constitutional tradition. As a result, Shakhray and a number of other experts conclude that the conceptual values kernel of the Russian Constitution 1993 is controversial. The author of the article analyzes the text of the Constitution, compares it with the text of the last Soviet Constitution of 1977 and joins the position that traditional notions of social solidarity, social responsibility and priority of public interests over the individual liberties counterbalance in the Constitution the liberal principles and norms. A consequence of this controversy of the basics constitutional model is inter alia recognition by the judges of the Russian Constitutional Court the equality of constitutional values and denial of any hierarchy between them. The analysis of the Russian Constitutional Court’s practice leads the author to a conclusion about the priority of the principles of social solidarity and prevailing of public interests over the values of liberalism and individual rights in this practice. The author argues that this approach is not a deviation from the core concept of the Constitution, but it is rather a choice of the Court from different values detectable in the Constitution and the constitutional and legal tradition definitely favors this approach.

About the author: Sergey Belov – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Head of the Department of Constitutional Law of the Faculty of Law, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russia (e-mail:

Citation: Belov S. (2019) Tsennosti rossiyskoy Konstitutsii v tekste i v praktike eyo tolkovaniya [Values of the Russian Constitution in its text and in practice of its interpretation]. Sravnitel'noe konstitotsionnoe obozrenie, vol.28, no.4, pp.68–83. (In Russia).


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