On this day five years ago the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation adopted - over one night - the decision (opinion) that allowed for the annexation of a part of Ukrainian territory - the Crimean penninsula. Thus, the decision of 19 March 2014 contributed to the commission of an act of aggression against Ukraine - an international crime.
Such an attack on the territorial integrity and on the sovereignity of a foreign state is unprecedented amongst constitutional courts and the judiciary in general. Never before has a constitutional court threatened international peace and security.
Had the Russian court acted in compliance with the rule of law, it could have precluded the annexation and stopped the escalation of further aggression. As it acted to the contrary, every single judge who sat on the latter bench now bears the legal and moral responsibility for this crime and all of its consequences. In the future, the legal responsibility will inevitably involve criminal responsibility for the crime of aggression. The moral responsibility is even wider in scope, as the decision of 19 March 2014 ultimately led to all of the victims of the still ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine.
During the past five years, I have used every opportunity I had to bring attention to this criminal act and will continue to do so in the future. I have also always strongly encouraged and will continuously urge Ukrainian judges and lawyers to do their part.
For more on the role of the Russian Constitutional Court in the annexation of Crimea see the INFORMATION BRIEF On the Role of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and Its Chairman Valery Zorkin in the Annexation of Crimea
The President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania
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