Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 24

On February 2, Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled that the system of residence permits, which replicates the Soviet-era "propiska" system, is unconstitutional. Russia’s 1993 Constitution gives citizens the right to choose their place of residence. Regional governments, however, have until now continued to restrict this freedom by imposing registration rules and high fees that effectively replicate the Soviet-era restrictions.

Last July, the Constitutional Court struck down a Moscow Oblast law on the grounds that the fees collected constituted a tax that was not in the power of a regional government to levy. However, the ruling did not apply to other oblasts and cities.

This week’s ruling goes much further. The Court ruled that, while it is legitimate for municipal authorities to require citizens to register their place of residence, and for the authorities to refuse permission to live in places judged hazardous for human habitation, local authorities do not have the right to deny citizens permission to live in a particular city. The ruling has far-reaching implications both for labor mobility (see preceding item) and for Russia’s fledgling housing market. (Itar-Tass, February 2)

More Impediments to START II Ratification.