Valery Zorkin
Valery Dmitrievich Zorkin is the first and the current Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation
Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation
The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation is a high court which is empowered to rule on whether or not certain laws or presidential decrees are in fact contrary to the Constitution of Russia...


Zorkin was born on 18 February 1943 in a rural area of the Maritime Province
Primorsky Krai
Primorsky Krai , informally known as Primorye , is a federal subject of Russia . Primorsky means "maritime" in Russian, hence the region is sometimes referred to as Maritime Province or Maritime Territory. Its administrative center is in the city of Vladivostok...

. In 1964, he matriculated from the Law Department of the Moscow University, in which he lectured until the late 1980s. He also lectured at the Ministry of USSR Internal Affairs, and became a professor. He became recognized as a leading specialist on the legal doctrines of Boris Chicherin
Boris Chicherin
Boris Nikolayevich Chicherin was a Russian jurist and political philosopher, who worked out a theory that Russia needed a strong, authoritative government to persevere with liberal reforms...

. During the last two years of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's existence, he led a group of legal experts working for the Soviet Constitutional Commission, furthering the case of shaping Russia a presidential republic. He left the CPSU after the August coup.

In October 1991 he became a judge of the Constitutional Court of Russia and on 1 November was elected the court's first (and only) chairman with unlimited tenure. During the Russian constitutional crisis of 1992-1993
Russian constitutional crisis of 1993
The constitutional crisis of 1993 was a political stand-off between the Russian president and the Russian parliament that was resolved by using military force. The relations between the president and the parliament had been deteriorating for a while...

, Zorkin and the Constitutional Court collided with President Yeltsin on a number of issues, incl. his decision to ban the CPSU and (later) the National Salvation Front
National Salvation Front (Russia)
The National Salvation Front was a broad coalition of communist, socialist and ultra-nationalist movements against the reforms in Russia. The front was organized on 24 October 1992...

. On 30 November 1992, the court overruled Yeltsin's decision to disband the local branches of the Communist Party (court maintained that disbanding the ruling bodies of the party was lawful).

In September 1993, Zorkin was involved in the bitter dispute as to the legitimacy of Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...

's decision to dissolve the Supreme Soviet of Russia
Supreme Soviet of Russia
The Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR , later Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation was the supreme government institution of the Russian SFSR in 1938–1990; in 1990–1993 it was a permanent parliament, elected by the Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian Federation.The Supreme Soviet of...

, a decision which ran contrary to the outdated RSFSR constitution. Zorkin is often credited with having stood behind the 22 September 1993 court ruling which declared Yeltsin's decision unconstitutional. Though the ruling (passed with 9 judges in favor and 4 judges against), was in agreement with the Constitution, Yeltsin had the work of the court suspended and Zorkin was forced to resign from the position of the chairman on 6 October 1993, retaining the post of a member of the court. Namely, Sergey Filatov, the head of the president's administration, is reported to have called the judges in the morning of 5 October, demanding that Zorkin's resignation. However, 8 judges out of the 12 ones present at the session of the court suggested that Zorkin should not resign (4 judges - N.Vitruk, E.Ametistov, T.Morshchakova and V.Oleynik - recommending Zorkin's resignation). In the evening, Filatov contacted Zorkin himself and demanded that he stepped down, otherwise a criminal case would be opened, accusing Zorkin of 'creating legal base for the extremist activities of Rutskoy and Khasbulatov'. On 6 October, Zorkin handed in his resignation from the post of chairman, which the Constitutional Court accepted. N.Vitruk was appointed as acting chairman of the Constitutional Court. On December 1, he and his fellow judge Luchin were dismissed from the Constitutional Court by 5 votes to 4 for engaging in politics. In December, he participated in a gathering of communists, nationalists and other opponents of the new constitution proposed by Yeltsin.

Zorkin was re-instated as judge on January 25, 1994. Nevertheless, in March, 1994, Zorkin signed the declaration of the orgkomitet of 'Concord in the Name of Russia' (Согласие во имя России), together with Gennady Zyuganov
Gennady Zyuganov
Gennady Andreyevich Zyuganov is a Russian politician, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation , Chairman of the Union of Communist Parties - Communist Party of the Soviet Union , deputy of the State Duma , and a member of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe...

, Alexander Rutskoy
Alexander Rutskoy
Alexander Vladimirovich Rutskoy is a Russian politician and a former Soviet military officer. Rutskoy served as the only Vice President of Russia from 10 July 1991 to 4 October 1993, and as the governor of Kursk Oblast from 1996 to 2000...

, Alexander Prokhanov
Alexander Prokhanov
Alexander Andreyevich Prokhanov is a Soviet and Russian writer. He is a member of the secretariat of the Writers Union of the Russian Federation and the editor-in-chief of ultra-nationalist newspaper "Завтра" ....

, Sergey Glazyev
Sergey Glazyev
Sergey Yurievich Glazyev is a Russian politician and economist, Academician of Russian Academy of Science since 2008. He was a minister in 1993, a member of the State Duma in 1993-2007, and ran for President of Russia in 2004...

, Stanislav Govorukhin
Stanislav Govorukhin
Stanislav Sergeyevich Govorukhin has been one of the most popular Soviet and Russian film directors since the 1960s...

, Aman Tuleyev
Aman Tuleyev
Aman Gumirovich Tuleyev , born 13 May 1944, is the governor of Kemerovo Oblast. He ran for President of Russia in 1991, 1996 and 2000, both times coming fourth....

at al. Despite having written the main report for the conference, he refrained from the foundation of the Concord, as he was warned again by the Court for political activities.

He then stopped his political activities. No longer a chairman, he reportedly happened to disagree with the majority's decision more often than did other judges of the court, e.g. in 1995 voicing dissent over the court's ruling that the president's and prime minister's decision to move Russian troops into Chechnya was legitimate.

Ten years after the court's decision that made him famous, on February 24, 2003, he was reelected the court's chairman. Many observers viewed his return to the office as corroborating the validity of the court's appraisal of Yeltsin's actions in 1993.

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