Legislation in question: Federal Law “On the General Principles of Organisation of the Local Self-Government in the Russian Federation”, Art 35 (parts 4, 5 and 51); Art 36 (parts 2 and 31) of the same federal law; the Law of Irkutsk Region “On Particular Questions of Forming the Bodies of Local Self-Government of Municipal Units of Irkutsk Region”, Article 3 (part 11)
Legal issues: 1) whether the regional legislator may determine the procedure of forming the representative body of municipal circuit, city district with an intracity division, the way of filling the office of the head of the municipal unit and its place in the structure of the bodies of the local self-government 2) whether the representative body of municipal circuit formed by the representatives of settlements may include unelected heads of settlements chosen by the representative bodies of the respective settlements from among the candidates nominated following a competition procedure 3) whether the regional legislator may establish the sole possible way of filling the office of the head of the city district and to endow this office with the functions of the head of local administration?
Ratio decidendi: The Court came to the conclusion that the regulation in question does not contradict the Constitution and that the regional legislator may determine the only possible version of forming the representative bodies with regard to those kinds of municipal units which are notable for high concentration of functions and tasks having importance for the State. Otherwise regions may not restrict the possibility to provide in the municipal charters for the popular election of the head of the municipal unit and also to independently determine the place of the head of municipal unit in the structure of the bodies of the local self-government of the respective settlement. The heads of the settlement chosen by representative bodies from among the candidates selected by a special commission of the basis of competition may not be included into the representative bodies of the municipal circuit (a higher unit of the local self-government).
(dissenting) Regional authorities obtained an efficient tool to exercise influence upon the selection of the heads of municipal circuits and city districts. Citizens are left with only a subsidiary power to include some additional elements into the rather stiff structure of the bodies of the local self-government which strictly predetermined by the legislator. The legislative determination of the sole version of the local self-government structure and the way to form them can be admitted in principle, but only as an exception.
(concurring): Some provisions of the Court judgment should be treated restrictively. Thus, the sole (having no alternative) version of the structure of municipal power in a city settlement is possible only when the procedure of conferring upon such settlement the status of city district has failed because of the absence of the necessary consent from the population. The conclusion on the possibility of establishing by regional legislation the only version of forming the representative bodies of municipal circuits, city districts having an intracity division, the procedure of electing of the heads of the municipal units (that is, circuits, city districts and intracity circuits) should only be understood restrictively: such decision of the regional legislator should be an exceptional one, and it may not be unreasoned. In the final analysis, the choice among alternatives, including direct popular elections, is a more democratic option with regard to all municipal units irrespective of their public and territorial organisation.