President of Lithuania's Constitutional Court Dainius Zalimas says Russia's Constitutional Court became an accomplice in an international crime and aggression against Ukraine when it legitimized the accession of occupied Crimea to Russia.
Speaking in a comment to UNIAN, Zalimas said he on Thursday took part in an international conference on the 25th anniversary of the Constitutional Court of Moldova. Representatives of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation also participated in the event, he said.
According to Zalimas, during his speech he focused on the fact that in established democracies, the court is an independent body that defends the Constitution, does not follow public opinion, is not guided by the results of opinion polls and cannot serve the interests of the president or supreme ruler.
"There are cases when the court must make unpopular decisions, since the Constitution is a balance between the rule of the majority and the need to protect the legitimate interests of minorities and protect human rights," he said.
In this regard, the Lithuanian official emphasized that the court's mission is to protect every person, especially "no matter what – when it comes to the weak strata of the population."
In his words, by recognizing the "legality" of the so-called agreement on the "accession" of the captured Crimea to Russia, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation was guided not by the Constitution, but by the interests of the power elite and Russian public opinion, which became hostage to misinformation. "I said that, unfortunately, there are cases of judicial populism, and I name it judicial populism when court decisions are made precisely from the point of view of public opinion or from the point of view of the ruling regime, which is identified with this public opinion," he added.
"I said that the annexation of Crimea where the court clearly took the lead from the ruling regime was the saddest example of such judicial populism, and sometimes such populism translates into the situation when the court commits a crime," he said.
In his opinion, as a cause-and-effect chain, such a decision by the Russian court triggered tragic consequences, including, an armed conflict in Donbas, as a result of which 14,000 people have already been killed.
"I just said that exactly what the Russian judges did when allowing the annexation of Crimea is an international crime, for which, in fact, there are criminal prosecution and criminal liability," Zalimas said.
He noted that any country's constitution does not allow aggression against another state. "If the court had made the decision being guided only by law and only by the Constitution ... then he could then have stopped the annexation of Crimea. Most likely, nothing [bad] would then have happened then," he said.
At the same time, Zalimas emphasized that "never in its existence, any constitutional court has made a decision in which it was a participant in an international crime and aggression."
Speaking about the agenda of the events in which delegations of the constitutional courts of certain countries, including Ukraine and the Russian Federation, took part, Zalimas noted that an evening reception along with an international conference and other events was scheduled to mark the 25th anniversary of the Constitutional Court of Moldova. However, he stressed, the delegations of Lithuania and Georgia had no intention of attending the event, as Russian judges would be present there.
"I have been holding the position for six years as head [of the Constitutional Court of Lithuania] – I have never shaken hands with the Russian judges who made the decision on Crimea overnight," Zalimas said.
UNIAN was unable to get a comment from the Constitutional Court of Ukraine on whether delegates from Kyiv will participate in the reception along with the Russian side.
As UNIAN reported, delegations of constitutional courts of 14 countries, including Ukraine and Russia, on February 19-20 were participating in events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Constitutional Court of Moldova.