Author Sandro

20.01.2020 10:20

What's Happening in Russia and What Is Putin up To?

What's Happening in Russia and What Is Putin up To?

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The Russian government has resigned, along with prime minister Medvedev. It all happened after Vladimir Putin announced an initiative on constitutional changes.

 

What does Putin want?

Along with many other issues: 

- International law should no longer have the upper hand over Russia’s constitution

- The candidacies of the head of government, deputies, and ministers must be confirmed by the parliament

- The president must coordinate the appointment of law enforcement ministers with the “Federation council”

- A person who has spent less than 25 years in Russia should no longer be allowed to become president. Moreover, “He should never have had citizenship or permanent residency in a foreign country”

- A new branch of government, the State Council, should be added to the Constitution.

Putin also said that we might cancel the text in the Constitution according to which you can only elect a president for two consecutive terms.

 

What does he need this for? 

Putin has been ruling Russia for almost 20 years. He did his first two terms in 2000-2008. Not long before the August war he did a real castling - Dmitry Medvedev became president for 4 years while Putin took up the prime minister position. He came back in 2012, this time for a 6-year-long term. In 2018, he became president for another 6 years. With the Constitution as it is today, he will no longer be able to run for president in 2024.

Pro-government experts and the “pocket opposition” admire his courage. The small number of opponents note that this initiative is very clearly a step towards strengthening the one-person rule. Plus, in addition to everything else, Putin’s power will become more informal. 

It’s clear that Putin doesn’t plan on going anywhere. Therefore, he had two options: take Lukashenko’s example and not restrict himself with the two-year term anymore, or do it like Kazakhstan’s former president - reinforce a different institution and lead it while weakening the presidential institution.

There’s already talk in Russia that the president chose the second option - shortly before resigning, Nursultan Nazarbaev increased the rights of the Security council and came to its head. Now he is also leading the ruling party, while the Constitution says that Nazarbaev is the “leader of the nation”.

Prime minister, head of Security council or a new constitutional organ, head of the State council? It is still unknown what new position Putin will occupy.

However, this isn’t all. Putin is also limiting political opponents - Khadarkovsi and Navalny - who have lived abroad and, moving to a different position, reinforces his untouchability even more. He will also be able to appoint a president of his choice for an indefinite term and control his decisions. 

Additionally, by Putin’s initiative, the norms and agreements of international law will no longer be above the Russian constitution. This means that, for example, the decisions of the European court will no longer be binding or mandatory for Russia. Therefore, Russian citizens will no longer be able to defend their rights with the help of international instances. Nor will they be able to sue the government.

 

Nothing to be happy about

Putin’s opponents agree that the voiced initiatives have nothing to do with democracy and positive changes. It came to complete the limited freedom of expression, liquidation of political opponents and full control over the court. A part of political experts believes that people should only expect theoretical chances of changes in government from parliamentary elections.

Putin hasn’t really touched on international politics or relations with neighbors, so there are no changes to be expected in that direction either.

Dimitry Medvedev’s resignation is called a populist step with which Putin’s government responds to the discontent existing in the population. They even found a new post for Medvedev - second after Putin in the Security council. The president of Russia already presented someone named Mishustin as his candidate for prime minister. Will the Russian parliament approve him? You probably won’t be surprised if I tell you that no one considered that question seriously in Russia.

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