Staunton, May 20 – As he has throughout his career, Vladimir Zhirinovsky is testing the waters for the Kremlin when he proposes that Russia do away with the Federation Council, an action that Vladimir Pastukhov argues would constitute another step toward the complete abolition of federalism in Russia.
Pastukhov, a London-based Russian analyst, says that he has also proposed taking that step but for entirely different reasons than those that lie behind what the LDPR leader has proposed. He says he won’t accuse Zhirinovsky of plagiarism but notes this conjunction because is suggests the idea is now circulating (echo.msk.ru/programs/personalno/2644877-echo/).
And Zhirinovsky’s suggestion is particularly worthy of note, the Russian analyst says, because such a high percentage of his ideas have subsequently been adopted, albeit in a modified way, by the powers that be in the Russian Federation. His latest proposal is likely to be one of those “in the future post-coronavirus and post-transition world.”
Over the last 20 years, Pastukhov continues, “the institutions of government power in Russia which do not have a direct relationship to the vertical of executive power and still worse t the vertical of the siloviki power have acquired an absolutely decorative character” and play no other role than to suggest Russia is a republic, a federation and a democracy.
Abolishing the Federation Council would change nothing except that image, not only depriving the country of all the value such an image has in the world today but opening the way for the destruction of other things, including of course the components of the federation, the oblasts, krays and national republics that form it.
(Pastukhov does not say, but it seems obvious to this writer that this entire Zhirinovsky-related exercise is another means to destroy the republics by the indirect “hybrid” method of destroying the only institution in Moscow where they have representation.)
But there is an even greater danger than that, Pastukhov suggests. Such a change in the constitution would represent a challenge to the inviolability of the first and second sections of the basic law and thus invite further unconstitutional changes in the constitution well beyond what anyone is thinking about now.
So far, Putin and his regime have held back from doing this, but he and his comrades in arms have “crammed a clutch of things in the Constitution which de facto destroy the principles of this 1993 Constitution.” Given that, there is little reason to think that they aren’t prepared to go even further.
Over the two decades of Putin’s rule, Russians have naively thought that “it is sufficient to speak the beautiful magic words ‘freedom, equality and brotherhood’” and all of them will suddenly be implemented and realized. But it has turned out that isn’t the case if at the top of the political system is an autocratic president. In that event, nothing works.