TWIFT | Other | Constitution 2.0. What Will Be Changed in Russia?

Constitution 2.0. What Will Be Changed in Russia?

Constitution 2.0. What Will Be Changed in Russia?

Russian President Vladimir Putin made an annual message to the Federal Assembly. He announced a change in the structure of power in the country. Moreover, real changes did not have to wait long and the government has already resigned.

Constitutional Amendments

Putin proposed amending the Constitution to create a new state body and expand the powers of parliament.

The Constitution should include the role of the State Council ‒ the body under the president, which includes the heads of the constituent entities of the Federation, members of the government, speakers of the State Duma and the Federation Council, presidential envoys in federal districts.

As for the parliament, now the president receives the consent of the State Duma to appoint a prime minister and all the ministers personally. Putin suggested changing this order. The State Duma should receive the right to approve the chairman of the government, whose candidacy is proposed by the head of state. Also, the lower house of parliament will be able to approve all deputy prime ministers and ministers upon the proposal of the prime minister. After this, the President will lose the right to reject the heads of ministries approved by the State Duma and will be obliged to approve them.

At the same time, Russia will remain a presidential republic. The president will retain powers to remove the ministers, direct control over the army and the law enforcement system. But the president will be able to approve all the heads of law enforcement agencies only in consultation with the Federation Council. According to Putin, it should make the work of law enforcement agencies more transparent and accountable to society.

Another proposal is to limit the priority of international law in Russia.

New Rules for The President

Putin proposes to abolish the norm that one person can hold the office of president in Russia only two terms in a row. Putin proposed strict requirements for presidential contenders. They must live permanently in Russia for at least 25 years, and not 10, as now. They should not have foreign citizenship at the time of nomination and nor ever before. 

By the way, Putin also proposes to prohibit having foreign citizenship or “another document that allows you to permanently reside in the territory of another state” to the heads of federal authorities, deputies, senators, judges, and heads of constituent entities of the Federation.

Political transformations continue in Russia. The government has already changed, the Constitution is next. The amendments will affect 14 articles of the Basic Law.

What are The Key Innovations?

Working Group

The working group was formally created to prepare proposals for amendments to the Constitution, managed in just one day.

Just Two Terms

One and the same person can only be president of Russia twice in his entire life. The word in a row will be removed from the Constitution, which allowed Vladimir Putin to become head of state four times: twice in a row, missing a term and two more times in a row.

Prior to this, some experts feared that, together with the word “in a row” from the Constitution, they would remove the restriction on the number of presidential terms and that Vladimir Putin would be able to be re-elected by the head of state as many times as necessary. But this will not happen.

State Council

The working group noted that one of the key issues is the consolidation in the Constitution of the role and status of the State Council, which Vladimir Putin proposed to turn from an advisory body into a constitutional one. Now the State Council is not mentioned at all in the Constitution.

The role of the State Council will be quite serious: it will be engaged in “ensuring the coordinated functioning and interaction of state authorities, determining the main directions of the domestic and foreign policy of the Russian Federation and the priority directions of the socio-economic development of the state” ‒ in fact, all these moments take over part of the presidential functions.

Moreover, the status of the State Council will be determined by a simple law, and the president himself will form it.

International Law

Amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation will not affect article 15, which guarantees the priority of international treaties over Russian laws.

The Russian authorities will allow themselves simply not to implement individual decisions of interstate bodies. Moreover, it will be enough for the judges of the Constitutional Court to convict these bodies of the incorrect, that is, unconstitutional, interpretation of international treaties.

In Ukraine, they believe that this rule is designed to protect the Russian Federation from all international claims regarding the annexation of Crimea.

How Will Everyone Accept It?

In Russia, they are talking about making changes to a universal vote. Various options are possible from a referendum to a simple vote in the State Duma by a majority of people’s deputies.

Amendments to the Constitution may be approved by referendum.

Reaction

Immediately after Putin’s message, the Russian government resigned. This was announced by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during a cabinet meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Medvedev noted that Putin’s proposed constitutional amendments will change the balance of executive, legislative, and judicial powers.

“In this context, it is obvious that we, as the government of the Russian Federation, should provide the president of our country with the opportunity to take all the necessary decisions, and in these conditions, I believe that it was correct in accordance with Article 117 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation the Government of the Russian Federation in its current composition filed resignation,” said Medvedev.

The cabinet will serve until the formation of a new Russian government

The government of the Russian Federation had resigned, said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Russian government agencies write that Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the government to fulfill their duties in full until the formation of a new cabinet.

It is noted that Medvedev considered it appropriate to resign to the government on the background of the proposals announced by Putin to amend the constitution of the Russian Federation.

Putin announced his intention to introduce the post of deputy secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and offered this post to Medvedev. Medvedev can deal with issues of defense and security.

“If Medvedev needs changes to the law to introduce a new position in the Security Council, this must be done, I will ask deputies for support,” said Putin.

Information about the resignation of the Russian government came as a surprise to its members. Even the ministers did not know about this.

Why Is All This Necessary?

Putin’s opponents say the whole story of constitutional amendments and Medvedev’s replacement is a solution to the issue of transit of power in 2024. “The main result of Putin’s message: what kind of fools are all those who said that Putin would leave in 2024. Remaining the sole leader for life is the only goal of Putin and his regime,” said Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“It is better to act not after, but ahead of schedule. The parameters for the transit of power, in which Putin leaves, but not to the side, but somewhere to the new upper compartment of the complicated system, are set, and in order to build it, it is not necessary to wait for 2024 now,” said Alexander Baunov, editor of Carnegie.ru.

At the same time, representatives of the Russian authorities, on the contrary, praise Putin’s proposals. “It seems to be a very correct statement of the problem ‒ to strengthen the role of the parliament, accountability of government ministers to the parliament,” said Sberbank President German Gref.

“Measures to determine the new status of the prime minister, the appointment, in essence, the approval by the parliament of Prime Ministers, deputy prime ministers and ministers, the president retains the right to remove them. These grounds for displacement must be more strictly defined; otherwise, the measures for designation are eroded. This is a small step, yes, towards a parliamentary republic, but so far it is not a parliamentary republic,” said the head of the Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin.

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