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On 6 December 2018 the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation pronounced its Judgement regarding the request of the Head of the Republic of Ingushetia

On 6 December 2018 the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation found the Agreement on Border Delimitation between the Republic of Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic and the law of the Republic of Ingushetia “On Approval of the Agreement on Border Delimitation between the Republic of Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic” to be in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Consideration of the case was initiated by the request of the Head of the Republic of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Yevkurov took place on 27 November 2018.    
History of the question
At the end of September 2018 the Heads of the Republic of Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic signed an Agreement on the delimitation of a border between the Republics, which has not been clearly defined since the split of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. The law of the Chechen Republic of 4 October 2018 “On Approval of the Agreement on Border Delimitation between the Republic of Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic” entered into force on 15 October 2018, a similar Law of the Republic of Ingushetia entered into force on 16 October 2018. On the same day the Agreement was ratified and became mandatory for the two Republics.
However, the said Law of the Republic of Ingushetia was challenged by a group of deputies of the Ingush parliament who applied to the Ingush Constitutional Court (CC RI). Having considered this issue, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Ingushetia on 30 October 2018 recognised the law and the procedure for the latter’s adoption not in accordance with the Republic’s Constitution, and decided that the Agreement itself does not give rise to legal consequences without its approval in a referendum. On 8 November 2018 the Head of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Yevkurov appealed to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.    
Position of the applicant
The applicant believes that the question considered by the CC RI was beyond the latter’s jurisdiction. Yunus-Bek Yevkurov claims that in determining the constitutionality of the Law it is necessary to assess the Agreement itself, which falls within the competence of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, since it is the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation that is authorised to consider the cases of compliance of treaties between the state authorities of territorial entities to the Russian Federation Constitution of the Russian Federation. 
Position of the Court

According to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the existing borders between subjects can be changed when transferring a part of the territory with their mutual consent and with approval of the Council of the Federation. Whether there is no border between two adjacent subjects, the issue is not about changing the title of any territory, but rather about their mutual need to demarcate their lands and resolve the issue of establishing the border. In this case the approval of the borders by the Council of the Federation is not expected.
The border between Ingushetia and Chechnya, the need to establish which stemmed from the Law of the Russian Federation of 1992 “On the Formation of the Ingush Republic...”, was not established after the transformation of the Chechen-Ingush Republic until the conclusion of the Agreement of 26 September 2018. This is confirmed by the federal law “On Measures for the Organisation of Local Self-government in the Republic of Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic,” where the issue of the border between newly formed subjects was not addressed.  

The authorities of a subject of the Russian Federation are entitled to create municipalities within their territory. As long as the borders of the subject itself are not established, the borders of municipalities adjacent to another subject of the Federation also cannot be considered as established. Otherwise would allow the population of municipalities to block the delimitation of the border between adjacent subjects of the Russian Federation. Whereas matters of the organisation of local self-government are secondary to the issues of determining the boundaries of the subjects of the Russian Federation.
The Constitution of the Russian Federation does not directly establish the cases where the conduct of a referendum by subjects in order to resolve issues related to their territorial organisation is mandatory. At the same time, the Constitution of Ingushetia provides for taking into account the opinion of the population of the relevant territory, but only in cases when the borders between the subjects of the Russian Federation are changed. There are no provisions for a referendum when deciding on the initial definition of the border with other subjects of the Russian Federation. Accordingly, a referendum in Ingushetia is not necessary when establishing the border with the neighbouring republic.
The law of the Republic of Ingushetia “On Approval of the Agreement on Border Delimitation between the Republic of Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic” is a special law containing only two articles rereading approval and entering into force the Agreement. That is why, neither a change in the concept of the draft law, nor amendments by deputies to the text are expected. Thus, deviations from procedural requirements were associated not with the expression of the will, but with the registration of voting results, which does not give grounds for a conclusion about the unconstitutionality of the Law.
According to the legal foundations of the activity of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Ingushetia, it resolves cases of compliance with the Constitution of Ingushetia, including treaties and agreements not yet in force. The prohibition to verify the constitutionality of an agreement that has entered into force cannot be overcome by checking a regulatory legal act (law) approving the agreement. The recognition of such a law as unconstitutional entails the possibility of illegal termination of the concluded contract.
Thus, the Agreement on Border Delimitation between the Republic of Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic, and the Law of the Republic of Ingushetia which has enshrined the latter, does not contradict the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
Presiding Judge Valery ZORKIN
Judge Rapporteur Sergei MAVRIN
 
 

 

06 December 2018



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