Staunton, March 9 – Both the initial amendments Vladimir Putin introduced to the Duma on January 20 and the additional ones Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin did on March 2 touch on the basic rights of Russians and violate the constitution in a variety of ways, according to seven leading human rights activists.
In a declaration carried by Vestnik Civitas, Lev Ponomaryev, Natalya Yevdokimova, Valery Borshchev, Svetlana Gannushkina, Liliya Shibanova, Sergey Krivenko, and Oleg Yelanchik urge the authorities to reject them and failing that for Russians to vote them down in what is in and of itself an illegal referendum in April (vestnikcivitas.ru/news/4244).
They say the way the amendments were prepared and proposed violate the existing Constitution and existing law, that despite official claims to the contrary they touch on basic provisions of the Constitution that cannot be changed in this way, and are not justified by any of the arguments those proposing them have made.
“Both documents, from January 20 and March 2, are nothing other than an open infringement on the foundations of the Constitutional system of the Russian Federation,” they write. Their adoption would compromise the basic law and the rights of the Russian citizens that document is supposed to defend.
As a result, they argue, “the process of introducing these catastrophic changes in the Constitution must be stopped,” by the legislature, the central election authorities, and the leaders of the force structures if possible or, failing that, by the population which must vote against their adoption in what will be an illegal referendum.
Russians want to have the opportunity to change their rulers because that is required to solve “the critical mass of unresolved social and political problems” the country faces and is possible because of “the maturation of a new generation of politicians and political activists,” the seven say.