Thursday, December 26, 2019

Zhirinovsky Wants to Replace Constitution’s ‘Multinational People’ with “Russians and Others’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 25 – Vladimir Zhirnovsky, the flamboyant and outspoken leader of the outrageously named Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, is always worth attending to because he says openly what others in the upper reaches of Moscow power structures but are too frightened or too polite to say until after what he proposes has in fact happened.

            Now, with discussions about rewriting the Russian Constitution sirling, he has weighed in with an idea that would fundamentally change the nature of the country: He wants the preamble of the 1993 Basic Law to drop its reference to “the multi-national people of the Russian Federation” (

            In its place, he proposes to use the phrase, “Russians and other people of Russia,” a term of art which in one fell swoop makes two basic changes in the constitutionally defined nature of the country and of the people who according to the Constitution’s subsequent articles is the source of sovereignty.

            On the one hand, his language unlike the constitution’s privileges the ethnic Russian nation and makes it clear that the other peoples are just that, “others” and thus lesser rather than an integral part of a common “multi-national” people as even the advocates of the civic identity of Rossiyane would have it. 

            And on the other, Zhirinovsky wants to eliminate any reference to federalism in the opening lines of the Constitution and to make “Russia” the formal name for the country. Such a shift whatever else was rewritten in a modified document would formalize the unitary nature of the state and eliminate power-sharing between Moscow and the regions and republics.

            In all, Zhirinovsky makes nine proposals for changing the constitution. Among the others which flow from these are, first, dropping restrictions on the re-election of presidents, re-dividing the country into 40 guberniyas, eliminating the provision making international law superior to Russian law, and giving the Duma the right to confirm the composition of the government.

            Additionally, the LDPR leader wants to eliminate all but party-list voting because he says that single-mandate constituencies are “always separatist and a centrifugal force,” establish “the Russian world” as the official ideology of the country, mandate Russia to protect Russians wherever they live, and style the country’s head ot “president” but rather “the supreme ruler.” 

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