The Freedom of Expression for State Servants

Civil servants and the police may speak publicly against the organizations they work for as long as their thoughts are clean and their motives are selfless – that is the decision of the Constitutional Court of Russia. The laws forbidding state employees from criticizing governmental bodies do not contravene the Constitution and the right of freedom of expression. A civil servant or a police officer can be fired for remarks against his or her employer unless it is proved that he or she spoke for the benefit of society without self-interest at heart.

This may be a heavy burden to bear. In December 2009, two judges of the Constitutional Court were ostracised by peers for voicing their concerns about the state of the judiciary in the country. The Chairman of the Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin then said that the traitors could no longer be part of this ‘very small circle of very respected people’. Justice Anatoly Kononov was forced to leave the court and Justice Vladimir Yaroslavtsev had to resign from the Council of Judges.

Earlier, Olga Kudeshkina, a Moscow judge at the time, was dismissed from the profession after she had made critical remarks about her boss, the president of the court, and the judicial system as a whole. Though the European Court of Human Rights ruled in her favour, Kudeshkina did not get her job back.

More about the decision of the Constitutional Court.