Constitutional Interpretivism and Criminal Procedure in the Russian Federation Constitution
Catherine Thérèse Clarke
The Russian Constitutional Commission, headed officially by President Boris Yeltsin and directed by First Secretary Oleg G. Rumyantsev, is the official entity charged with drafting a new constitution that will establish a new federal government for the former U.S.S.R. The newly drafted Russian Federation Constitution, if ratified, 1 will change history and the lives of over 147 million people. 2 One of the framers described the importance of the federation's new Constitution:
[t]he four previous Soviet Constitutions were not a foundation for rule of law. They were ideological texts. Our [new] constitution is intended as a civil contract among individuals. Each constitutional phrase has to be a stable basis for laws, for protection of the individual. And that, for all their pretty words, was never in our Soviet constitutions. 3
The Russian Federation draft Constitution reflects a substantial effort to provide more than "pretty words." The drafters intend for the Constitution to build a strong and profound reformation of the rule of law that will protect individual liberties and redefine federalism in the Russian Federation. Once a constitution is adopted, those charged with the momentous job of interpreting and applying the constitutional mandates may benefit from considering other countries' constitutional experiences. Perhaps the U.S. Constitutional experience will also be instructive. While the Constitutional Court will interpret the new constitutional language, it is critical that the various republics, Days, oblasts, and okrugs participate in the structuring of the new government and, at the same time, establish their own constitutional foundations.
One area of the law that exemplifies the constant struggle to interpret the express words of the U.S. Constitution is that of the Fourth Amendment. 4