Empty form and determination : Analysing decree No. 21-P by the Russian Constitutional Court
Abstract: What does it mean when there is nothing behind the façade? The schism between Russia and the international society reached a new level of depth as of February 2022. Тhis predicament was facilitated by events and developments prior to it, and this build-up also saw itself reflected in the sphere of international law. There was a crucial moment in 2015 when the Russian Constitutional Court passed decree 21-P. This decision was the culmination of a long legal struggle between the Russian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. The conclusion was that if a judgment of an international court is incompatible with the Russian Constitution, then the execution of measures foreseen in the judgment of its legal order can be prevented. This thesis seeks to delineate in what way key aspects of legal scholar Mikhail Antonov’s dissertation Formalism, Realism and Conservatism in Russian Law are found manifest in the linguistic properties and legal methodology applied by the Constitutional Court in decree 21-P. The document concerning decision 21-P was subjected to a three-step assessment including an analysis of the document’s quantitative properties, a discourse analysis, as well as an analysis of the court’s legal methodology. The research results indicate that Antonov’s conception of the Russian legal system expresses itself in a diffuse multi-dimensional system in decision 21-P. It is a multifaceted pattern where different elements can elicit formalism, realism, or both simultaneously, with different degrees of prevalence.
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