Friday, July 13, 2018

Putin’s Once-Beloved ‘Dictatorship of Law’ is an Oxymoron, Klyamkin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 12 – The “dictatorship of law” Vladimir Putin and his regime used to invoke as a description of his system is “not an alternative to illegality,” Igor Klyamkin of the Liberal Mission Foundation says. Instead, “it is illegality acting in the name of law” and thus fundamentally a contradiction in terms.

            In a comment for the Rosbalt news agency, the longtime social analyst says that he has at long last understood why many Russians are put off by the term “’dictatorship of law’” and do not view it as a term which describes in any way the order of things in Putin’s Russia (

                They are offended by the idea not because they view a dictatorship as a bad thing but rather as a system that hasn’t done enough to impose its will on the population and needs to take even harsher actions, Klyamkin says.  But in fact, he argues, the situation is just the opposite because “dictatorship” and “law” are antithetical.

            “A dictatorship is a power which is not limited by law,” and therefore “a dictatorship of law is unlimited power operating in the name of law both in the elaboration of laws and in their application.”  In coming up with new laws, such a regime feels completely free to violate the constitution; and in applying them, it selectively enforces them only against its enemies.

            “Why is this possible?” Klyamkin asks rhetorically. Among other reasons, this is because “the very dictatorship of law was put in place by law.  The exiting Constitution, which violates itself” by proclaiming a division of powers like other democratic countries, in fact establishes “a fourth branch, the presidential,” whose power is above all the others.

            Were that not the case, he argues, there would not be any talk of “dictatorship of law.” And indeed, there is far less talk of it now than there was during Putin’s first term, perhaps because even the Kremlin leader recognizes that the combination of dictatorship and law is an oxymoron and will raise questions he doesn’t want any Russian to ask.

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