07MOSCOW217, COMPROMISE ON CONSTITUTIONAL COURT’S MOVE TO ST.

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #07MOSCOW217.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW217 2007-01-19 16:43 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO3131
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0217/01 0191643
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191643Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6531
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 3688
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1853
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2108

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000217 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/RUS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR RS
SUBJECT: COMPROMISE ON CONSTITUTIONAL COURT'S MOVE TO ST. 
PETERSBURG 
 
MOSCOW 00000217  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (SBU) After much unexpected wrangling, on January 19 the 
decision was taken to transfer the RF Constitutional Court 
(CC) to St. Petersburg, as initially proposed by President 
Putin.  CC judges, publicly opposed to the move, succeeded in 
retaining the right to hold sessions in Moscow.  In a rare 
disagreement with Russia's other legislative body, the 
Federation Council on December 27 rejected legislation passed 
by the Duma that would have required the CC to conduct 
sessions exclusively in St. Petersburg.  The legislation went 
to a joint "conciliation" commission.  The commission's 
compromise proposal allows the CC to hold sessions outside of 
St. Petersburg on an as-needed basis and to have a 
representative in Moscow.  The transfer of the CC is intended 
to enhance St. Petersburg's political stature.  End summary. 
 
-------------- 
The Amendments 
-------------- 
 
2. (U) The amendment to move the RF Constitutional Court (CC) 
to St. Petersburg, introduced in early 2006 at President 
Putin's behest, while hardly a surprise, was reportedly not 
welcomed by CC judges.  After months of negotiations, the 
bill passed its second reading only on December 15. That 
version would have moved the CC to St. Petersburg, but 
allowed it to hold sessions in Moscow.  The typically 
seamless passage of bills through the Duma was interrupted 
when on December 20 an amended version of the bill was 
returned for a "second" second reading.  The new draft 
limited the CC to holding sessions only in St. Petersburg and 
restricted its Moscow presence to support staff. The Duma 
approved the revised bill in back-to-back second and third 
readings, much to the very public displeasure of CC Chairman 
Valeriy Zorkin. 
 
3. (U) Subsequently, Zorkin sent a letter to the Presidential 
Administration and the heads of the lower and upper houses, 
in which he objected to the manner of the amended bill's 
adoption.  Federation Council Chairman Sergey Mironov, while 
backing the transfer of the CC, supported Zorkin's 
objections.  On December 27, in less than nine minutes and 
under the careful direction of Mironov, the Federation 
Council rejected the amended bill and sent it to a joint Duma 
- Federation Council "conciliation" commission.  While there 
was no public debate, the transcript of the Federation 
Council proceedings showed that Chair of the Federation 
Council's Constitutional Legislation Committee Yuriy 
Sharandin, charged with presenting the legislation for the 
vote, argued that the last-minute changes would reduce the 
prerogatives of the CC to fewer than those enjoyed by other 
state bodies such as the Federation Council and the Duma and 
constrain the CC's independence. 
 
4. (U) Additionally, Sharandin obscurely alluded to the 
welfare of former CC judges.  While Mironov dismissed the 
discussion for another time, the statement supports the 
popular belief that the CC judges' reluctance to move is 
based on personal factors, such as housing, access to medical 
care, children's education, as well as the concomitant 
difficulties of attracting qualified personnel to work for 
the CC in St. Petersburg. (NOTE: Studies show that Russians 
are averse to moving in search of employment.) 
 
------------------------------------------ 
Response to Federation Council's Rejection 
------------------------------------------ 
 
5. (SBU) Tacitly conceding defeat, Duma Deputy Alexandr 
Moskalets, deputy of the committee responsible for 
introducing the original amendments, as well as the 
last-minute changes, predicted to us on January 9 that the 
joint commission would "peacefully decide" how many times the 
Court would be able to hold sessions outside St. Petersburg. 
Mikhail Paleyev, a lawyer for the Presidential 
Administration, agreed that a compromise detailing the number 
of "away" sessions the Court could hold was likely. 
 
6. (SBU) Moskalets argued that allowing the Court to go on 
the road would be expensive, but that it was not just a 
financial question.  In the Soviet era, courts had traveled 
and that, he held, had affected their independence. 
 
MOSCOW 00000217  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
 
7. (U) In a subsequent Kommersant article, however, Moskalets 
was less conciliatory.  After outlining all the reasons why 
no compromise would be possible, he concluded that since the 
move was the Kremlin's initiative, it would be up to the 
Kremlin to decide what should be done. 
 
8. (U) On January 19, the Duma voted to accept the 
commission's compromise proposal.  This allows the CC to hold 
sessions outside of St. Petersburg on an as-needed basis. 
Putin reportedly extracted a promise from Zorkin that if the 
CC were allowed to hold sessions outside of St. Pe
tersburg, 
the privilege would not be abused.  The CC will also be 
allowed a representative in Moscow, as opposed to just a 
support staff presence. 
 
------------------ 
Putin As Chairman? 
------------------ 
 
9. (SBU) There has been conjecture that Putin's push for the 
CC's move to St. Petersburg is not disinterested.  Yelena 
Mazulina, the Russian Federation representative before the 
Constitutional Court and a former Duma deputy, speculated to 
us that Putin's grand plan was to unite the three high courts 
(the CC, the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Arbitrage Court) 
and then become the Chairman of this "super court." 
 
10. (SBU) The Moscow Carnegie Center's Nikolay Petrov, on the 
contrary, told us January 12 that the move was not part of 
Putin's retirement package.  Putin had long ago promised to 
make St. Petersburg into a real second city, and the CC move 
was designed to advance that process.  Unlike other 
ministries or branches of government, the CC's attendant 
bureaucracy was relatively compact.  Moving it would not 
cause great dislocations.  Petrov added that one collateral 
benefit of the move for Putin was that the St. Petersburg CC 
would almost certainly be able to offer sinecures to a large 
number of "second tier" people whom Putin might want to help. 
 It also would further burnish the President's reputation in 
his native city as he prepared to retire. 
 
11. (SBU) In a January 18 conversation, LDPR Duma Deputy 
Yevgeniy Ivanov ascribed the move as, concomitantly, the 
product of a desire to insulate the CC from Moscow's 
political whirlwind.  Some in the Duma, he said, had argued 
that the CC should even be moved to one of Russia's 
third-tier cities.  Having the judges at some distance from 
Moscow would make it easier for them to make evenhanded 
decisions, Ivanov said. He dismissed the rumor that the CC's 
relocation had anything to do with Putin's post-presidential 
plans. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
12. (SBU)  Leaving aside Putin's possible post-2008 plans, 
this latest public disagreement about legislation again 
demonstrates a willingness on the part of some to fight 
proposals generated at the top, especially when their 
personal well-being may be affected.  Lofty notions of CC 
independence notwithstanding, much of the undercurrent seems 
to reflect practical concerns about housing and lifestyle. 
While Putin ultimately had his way, a clause that delays the 
CC's transfer until an unspecified date to be agreed upon 
with the President and the need to renovate the CC's St. 
Petersburg premises means that a change of venue remains at 
least a year away. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: