Saturday, September 20, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin Deputy Wants to End Russia’s Subordination to International Law

Paul Goble


            Staunton, September 20 – Yevgeny Fedorov, a member of the pro-Putin United Russia fraction in the Russian State Duma, is circulating a petition calling for a constitutional amendment that would end the legal requirement that Russia subordinates its action to its treaties and international law.


            He told “Nezavisimaya gazeta” that such a step is part of a broader effort to change the current situation in which “the Russian legal system is so penetrated by an Anglo-Saxon spirit up to and including the titles of positions such as presidents, municipalities, mayors and so on” (


            If Fedorov’s proposal were to be accepted, Moscow would be free to ignore any of its international obligations. It is unlikely to be – indeed, this may be nothing more than a Putin-created opportunity to make Putin look “responsible” in the eyes of the West – but it reflects a habit of mind of Russian exceptionalism that threatens both Russia and the world.


Other Duma members are preparing amendments to the Russian constitution that would end the ban on a state ideology, and these ideas will be at the center for demonstrations being organized by the Russian National Liberation Movement in some 200 cities across the Russian Federation a week from today.


Given the centrality of ideology in the Soviet system and the view that the 1993 constitutional ban on such an ideology was and in many quarters remains a central bulwark against the restoration of communism, calls to end that ban are likely to attract more attention. But the end of the requirement that Russia subordinate itself to international law may be important.


            Unfortunately, it may have even more support in Russia at this time.  Aleksey Mukhin, the general director of the Center for Political Information, told “Nezavisimaya gazeta” that he believes this is a “wise” proposal and one moreover which really does not need general discussion.


            When the 1993 Constitution was adopted, he says, most people believed that all countries would live according to international law, “but the situation has shown with time that international institutions can be used in the interests of particular groups of countries or particular countries, and therefore this mechanism does not work.”


            It is thus “stupid” to retain such a provision in the Russian Constitution, Mukhin says, yet another indication of Russia’s move away from the conventions of the international system and one that should serve as a warning to others that any agreements Moscow does sign are pieces of paper that it may soon tear up when it finds such a step convenient or profitable.



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