Staunton, February 2 – While the actual number of amendments will be much small and affect only those areas Vladimir Putin wants to see changes made, Russians both formally through the working group on constitutional change and informally via the media have made literally hundreds of proposals for change (kp.ru/daily/27086.5/4158547/).
These range from inserting God and ethnic Russians into the Constitution to removing “multi-nationality” and republics from it – see, e.g., echo.msk.ru/news/2580972-echo.html, snob.ru/society/patriarh-kirill-predlozhil-vpisat-boga-v-konstituciyu/ idelreal.org/a/30412540.html credo.press/228917/, and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/02/opposition-to-changing-russian.html.
The appearance of so many proposals is important for at least three reasons. First, it suggests that Russians have less than a clear idea of what a constitution is as compared to a law given that many of the proposals – and this is true of some of Putin’s as well – want to put in the Constitution ideas that can be dealt with by ordinary laws.
Second, it signals that Russians do have a wide variety of ideas that they want their government to take seriously, something the regime rarely does, and feel that the call to discuss the Constitution is the perfect perhaps even only time when they have a chance to be heard and possibly taken seriously even if their proposals aren’t adopted.
And third, the richness of these proposals suggests that those who make them may react differently after they are ignored than before they made them because having spent the time offering them, they will then more clearly see what the powers that be in Moscow are prepared to accept.
Consequently, whatever the Kremlin’s intentions, this constitutional process may prove to be a mobilizing process – and demobilization may be more difficult for the authorities than they suspect.