The real scope of the constitutional reform that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, launched last January 15 in his annual address before the two parliamentary Chambers, the same day that the Government resigned in full, is unknown, but all indications point to that the different elite pressure groups struggle to influence the development of the amendment process.
According to sources from the Administration of the Kremlin and the Duma (Lower House of the Russian Parliament), cited by various media, there has been a pause in the procedure for examining the amendments to the Russian Constitution “due to the struggle that is generating around the process ».
The Duma, which started the debate very quickly and approved Putin’s reform project at first reading on January 23, immediately after its presentation, has entered a phase of slowdown. The discussion for the approval of the amendments in second reading did not begin on February 11, as originally planned, and today the president of the Duma, Viacheslav Volodin, announced that “on February 17 the Council of the Chamber will study the extension of the deadlines for the presentation of amendments ».
Minutes earlier, Putin met at his residence in Novo Ogariovo, on the outskirts of the capital, with the 75 members of the “working group” or “constitutional committee” that is preparing the proposals and containing only a fortnight of Law specialists along with a majority of sports stars and the artistic world, in addition to the occasional character, such as the director of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Mikhail Piotrovsky. Putin said during the meeting that “nobody hurries us, so you can ask colleagues to postpone the second reading.”
Senators for life
The truth is that everything is being carried out in the most absolute secret: nobody has explained what new prerogatives the judicial, legislative and executive powers will have, to what extent the powers of the president increase or decrease, what powers the State Council will acquire , currently merely consultative, what will Putin do when his current and last term expires in 2024, according to the current Magna Carta, or who will be called to replace him.
The only thing that seems plausible, as the head of the Kremlin promised in his speech on January 15, is that the new president may be nothing more than two terms at the head of the country. It is also intended to establish in the Fundamental Law the mandatory update of pensions and the minimum wage each year, articles that the opposition sees as decoys to achieve greater popular support.
One factor that is contributing to confusion is the enormous number of proposals that are being submitted to incorporate the reform, from including the concept of God in the Basic Law, proposed by the Orthodox patriarch, Kiril, replacing the term “president »By that of« supreme leader »or including a section in memory of the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 and even the« return »of Crimea to Russia after its annexation in 2014. Pável Krashenínnikov, head of the legislative committee of the Duma argues that he has received “138 amendments from deputies while the working group – created by Putin – has already submitted 400 proposals.”
Of all this, what seems most likely to materialize is the idea that the country’s former presidents become, after leaving power, and
n life senators endowed with immunity to prevent them from ending up in court. Such heading will benefit Putin and his tandem partner, Dmitri Medvedev, president of the latter between 2008 and 2012 and then head of the Government until his resignation last month.
But everything stays under a thick veil. To the insistent questions of the journalists requesting details and clarifications of how the discussions on the reform are going, the senator of the Federation Council (Upper House), Andréi Klishas, head of the constitutional law commission and co-chair of the working group, responded this week that “this whole procedure is very important, of course, but for jurists, not for society”, words that have stunned many citizens and continue to provoke criticism and jocular comments on social networks.
This opacity is what is fueling the idea that there is an underground war in the elites to bring the ember to its sardine in all this mess of constitutional changes. The Russian political scientist at the University College of London, Vladimir Pastujov, says that “we have been dealing with the amendments to the Magna Carta for a month and there is nothing clear.”
Once the amendments have passed through the Parliament, it must be put to a popular vote on a date still to be determined in April, in principle, and during the weekdays turned into holidays. Virtually all extra-parliamentary opposition plans to boycott the query or ask for the “no.”
Putin denies that he wants to perpetuate himself in power
President Vladimir Putin said at the beginning of the month that he has no intention of continuing to command the country beyond 2024. “The amendments I proposed are simply dictated by life (…) in the exercise of my duties as president and chief of the Government I have come to the certainty that some things do not work as they should, “said the top Russian leader in a meeting with members of” civil society. ”
“That is why I proposed this reform, not to prolong my stay in power,” he added. However, according to a recent survey, almost half of Russians think otherwise. 47% of the respondents affirmed that the constitutional changes promoted by the Kremlin precisely seek to eternalize Putin at the head of the country.
The American agency Bloomberg says that Putin’s initial plan to continue sending was to have created a unitary state with neighboring Belarus, which would have forced the approval of a new Magna Carta. But, given the refusal to accept such a scenario by the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, it was necessary to opt for the current reform underway.
The director of the Moscow Eco radio, Alexéi Venedíktov, believes that, together with the amendments to the Constitution, “we will have to modify the federal laws that derive from such changes” and, one of those laws, is what regulates the elections to president of Russia.
But, according to his calculation, being a new constitutional situation, such a rule “would establish that all of the above is repealed,” including Putin’s already expired term of office in the presidency. That “would make everything start from scratch (…) and Putin could come back to the next elections”, in 2024, and the following in 2030. This same thesis, on the procedure that the current Russian president will supposedly use to hold on the Russian political scientist, Andréi Piontkovski, has been defending for some time. .