Monday, March 30, 2020

New Amendments Reduce Local Governments to Status of Rural Soviets whose Only Task was to Follow Orders, Lukyanova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 26 – Under the terms of Vladimir Putin’s Constitutional amendments, Yelena Lukyanova says, local self-administration in Russia “which was becoming more and more independent” will be reduced to carrying out orders from regions and Moscow and thus become like the primary soviets in USSR time.

            The Higher School of Economics specialist says this threat is concealed behind amendments which fold into the concept of “state power” the principles of “public authority” which have been the bases of what autonomy local governments have had in the last two decades (

            “Government authority and public authority are different terms” even though they have not been given definitions that all can agree about, Lukyanova continues. “They are not a single system of power.” But the two terms have not been carefully defined, and now the Putin regime has simply gutted the meaning of the one by folding it into the other.

            Sergey Pashin, a retired federal judge who now teaches at the Higher School of Economics, agrees.  And he says that because that is the case, “formally the amendments should not limit the rights of local self-administration, but in fact they will be limited” because Moscow and the regions will treat these local governments as branches of their own.

            He expressed the hope that local governments would resist such moves and thus preserve themselves as public authorities rather than branch offices of the government.

            Other legal analysts are more optimistic. Dmitry Timchenko, a Moscow lawyer, says that “the new law will not limit the rights of local self-administration.” Instead, it will clarify the relations between the various levels of government and ensure that this happens without the rights and responsibilities of any of them being undermined.

            “In essence,” he continues, “a single system of public authority with three elements of government power – legislative, executive and judicial – already exists, and in fact the federative administration has been reduced to a minimum. The changes will make possible the effective resolution by the single system of public power its tasks in the interests of the population.”

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