Staunton, January 31 – When Vladimir Putin’s constitutional changes are submitted to the regions and republics for approval, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, they will all go along without protest because “’the subjects’ of the Federation now in general are not subjects” and Moscow will replace any of their leaders who cause problems.
Another reason for that conclusion, the Russian economist says, is that the proposed changes do not specifically address the concerns of the regions, although they are likely to have an impact because what Moscow does reflects less the text of the basic law than what the Kremlin wants (idelreal.org/a/30409735.html).
(Nearly a third of Russians agree. According to a new Levada Center poll, 30 percent of them say that “the Constitution,” for all the media play about amendments, “does not play a significant role in the life of the country because few take it into consideration, Lyailya Mustafina of the IdelReal portal continues.)
Former Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov seconds these views. “First of all,” the changes do not address the regions and republics specifically. “The amendments bear a universal character, equally applicable to Siberia and Crimea and the Caucasus and the Volga.” As such, they are all about “the further toughening of the power vertical.”
But of course, these changes will work against the regions and republics, he says. The elimination of the provision of the supremacy of international law will also eliminate one of the levers some in the federal subjects in principle have used to defend their rights against the central government.
In addition, Ryzhkov says, the regional legislative assemblies will lose the right to concur with the choice of procurators. Moscow will make all such appointments unilaterally and without consultation. And local self-administration will lose all autonomy and become simply a cog in the power vertical.
But he too says there is no reason to expect any resistance: those who might have resisted in the past have been removed; and those who might do so now know very well what would happen if they did. Thus, everyone must conclude that these changes are “the next step to a still more authoritarian regime in Russia.”
Mikhail Vinogradov, head of the Petersburg Politics Foundation, agrees. There won’t be any resistance from the republics. They aren’t the target of these reforms, and they aren’t going to react.
But not everyone agrees with such predictions. Russian lawyer Elena Lukyanova says that what Putin is doing constitutes “a constitutional coup” and that the regions and republics will find ways to protest and resist. They know, even if the Kremlin does not, that Putin’s latest actions bring Russia to “the brink of breakup” (idelreal.org/a/30394848.html).