A Russian constitution does not exist because someone sometime wrote a bad text,” the London-based Russian historian and commentator says. “There is no constitution because in society there has not been formed a constitutional consensus around those basic values which were written down in 1993 in Russia but have never been acknowledged there.”
Moreover, he continues, “a Russian constitution does not exist because having formulated an encyclopedia of human rights, the pride of liberal thought of the 1990s, the Russian democratic movement “stopped short of creating constitutional institutions of power” that would prevent the post-communist nomenklatura from seizing and implementing power.
“The liberal mountain gave birth to a constitutional mouse by having written into the basic law a mechanism which in no way limits the personal power of the leader. There aren’t even plenums and a Politburo” in its language, Pastukhov continues.
Specific changes or a complete rewrite will not make the current document a constitution. “Everything must begin from zero” with a careful taking into account of “all that positive and negative experience” of the last 25 years so that the mistakes of that period won’t be enshrined and thus repeated.
“A real constitutional reform in Russia,” the London historian says, would involve the full and uncompromising dismantling of the empire and its transformation into a nation state, with genuine federalism and local administration, a strong central government possibly “on the basis of a parliamentary republic with a president who would guarantee the constitution rather than be a protector of understandings.”
That would be “a real revolution, perhaps the most grandiose of all the revolutions which Russia has experienced in its history,” Pastukhov continues. But according to the historian, to make this revolution will require the appearance of a generation “which does not have any Soviet experience or ensuring nostalgia for the USSR.”
“This generation,” he says, “will come to the time of its political maturity not in 2024 but by 2030; and it will need fresh and dramatic ideas.” The current discussions may spark the appearance of what is needed even if those who are organizing such talk have entirely different plans.