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Putin Signs Bill Making Russia Untouchable By International Law

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent

President Vladimir Putin signed a law Tuesday giving Russia the right to decide for itself whether or not international human rights court rulings should be implemented in the country.

The Russian Constitutional Court can now pronounce any ruling “non-executable” if it doesn’t comply with the Russian constitution.

The law comes after a verdict from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) last year which forced the Russian government to pay more than $2 billion to shareholders of the Yukos oil company. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Yukos’ owner, was jailed in 2003 and served 10 years for what the ECHR claimed was a politically-motivated sentence.

The ECHR received 218 complaints against Russia last year, with more than half getting ruled a violation.

Human Rights Watch criticized the bill as designed to “thwart the ability of victims of human rights violations to find justice.

Valery Zorkin, the head of the Constitutional Court, said people don’t have to worry about the new law, and that there will be a “dialogue” in cases where there is a possible problem.

“I don’t see any problem there,” Zorkin said according to Reuters. “I think people are worrying for nothing.”

As part of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Russia will still have to abide to rulings of human rights bodies established by international treaties.

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