The Constitutional Court dismissed the complaints of 13 applicants who asked that Art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses on "discrediting the army". The applicants, in particular, noted the discriminatory nature of the article, since it provides for fines for an anti-war position. But most importantly, Article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses violates more than a dozen articles of the Constitution. For example, about the right to freedom of conscience, thought and speech, the right to freedom of assembly and the prohibition to establish an ideology. RBC writes about it.
However, the court determined that the operation of this article during a military operation "cannot be questioned from the point of view of constitutionality." In fact, the court did not give explanations on violations of specific articles of the Constitution. According to the judges, this anti-constitutional article can be applied during "military operations", since they are aimed "to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, to maintain international peace and security ".
The Constitutional Court came to the conclusion that public negative assessments of the actions of the army can “ reduce the decisiveness and effectiveness of the Armed Forces <...> in fulfilling the assigned tasks, the motivation of the military, and thereby <...> contribute to the forces that oppose the interests” of Russia. At the same time, the court considers that the article does not interfere with “pointing out the presence of shortcomings” in the activities of the Armed Forces, “if this is not associated with an arbitrary denial of the constitutionally predetermined nature, goals and objectives of this activity and is based on open reliable information.” According to the judges, the article does not violate the constitutional rights of citizens.
In addition, the ruling of the Constitutional Court states that the article does not infringe "on the freedom of the individual to choose and adhere to certain beliefs and act in accordance with them, since such freedom does not imply the commission of offenses by a person."
“An ideal argument,” lawyer Konstantin Zosin writes on Facebook. - By the way, the only argument of the court regarding the violation of freedom of opinion. So, for example, it is possible in theory to adopt a law on the execution of all those who write with their left hand. And this law will not violate the rights of left-handers, since the realization of the rights of left-handers does not imply their committing offenses, that is, the use of the left hand when writing, which is prohibited by this law.
Let us recall several cases of persecution of people under Article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses.
In March 2022, an activist was fined in Moscow for picketing with a poster “Fascism will not pass.” The slogan was recognized as discrediting the Russian army. Also in March 2022, activists from Krasnodar and Tula were fined under this article for spitting in the direction of the letter Z and the slogan “No to war.” In October 2022, a local resident was fined in Tyumen for writing “NO B***E” signs on the asphalt. At first, she convinced the court that she meant “NO VOBLES” because she “feels hostility to this type of fish,” but then the police appealed the decision.
In August 2022, lawyer Pavel Chikov reported that Russian courts had already considered 3,500 cases under this article. According to him, in almost all cases the defendants were found guilty. For them, a repeated anti-war statement means criminal prosecution under Article 280.3 of the Criminal Code - "repeated discrediting that entailed dangerous consequences."
On May 23, the head of the Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin, showed Russian President Vladimir Putin a 17th-century map drawn up by the French under Louis XIV. Looking at it, neither Zorkin nor Putin "found" Ukraine, since it "did not exist." However, this territory is on the map shown to Putin: as part of the then-existing Commonwealth, it is signed as “Vkraine ou Pays des Cosaques” (“Ukraine, land of the Cossacks”). Also on the map, the Crimean peninsula is indicated as Crimski tartares du Crim - Crimean Tatars of Crimea.