Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Constitutional Amendments ‘Annuls’ Not Just Putin’s Terms but Legitimacy of State Itself, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 15 – There are two important aspects to the upcoming referendum on constitutional amendments that have received too little attention, Vladislav Inozemtsev says. On the one hand, it “annules” not just Putin’s terms in office but the legitimacy of the Russian state. And on the other, it assumes Putin will be re-elected again and again because he can run.

            The amendments Russians have been asked to approve make the Russian state more beholden on its predecessor than do any other constitution in Europe or America, documents which are based on starting afresh rather that reifying what went before them, the commentator says (

            “Not a single Basic Law postulates the primacy of national law, putting the state in which it operates, in the position of an outlaw with which it is senseless to conclude any treaties or agreements.” Nor does any so fear its own status that it prohibits those at the top from having dual citizenship or the right to live in other countries.

            No other constitution “tramples so demonstratively the judicial power and offers the chief of state the right to name part of the deputies of the upper chamber of parliament” or declares only one of the ethnoses which form its population “state-forming,” leaving all the others out and in a second-class status.

            Thus, Inozemtsev says, “the constitution of Russia is not the constitution of a contemporary state. It is a collection of understandings by which the country has lived already for a long time but whose legitimation devalues its status as a state.” A critical example of this is its assumption that if it gives the president the right to be re-elected, he will be.

            There are simply “too many cases from recent history” which show that eternal rule zeroes out above all respect for the ruler and willingness to subordinate oneself to his decisions,” the commentator says; and because that is so, most constitutions are based on an understanding that such an arrangement is to be avoided.

            “By destroying Russian statehood,” he continues, “the present-day elite makes its fate dependent not on law to which it and the people should be subordinate but exclusively on the changing attitudes of the masses,” exactly the reverse of what a constitution  which sets the rules of the game is supposed to do.

            Four years before an expected election campaign, “the people are thus deprived of any intrigue – and considering the economic and social ‘successes’ of the country recently, they are confronted with hopelessness. It seems to me,” Inozemtsev says, “that no one in the Kremlin now recognizes the consequences of this.”

            “Finally,” he says, “one cannot fail to repeat the obvious: the Constitution was changed with a clear violation of the very procedures it defines as required.” As a result, “the only (if not self-evident) change to save the situation could be the holding of a large competitive campaign for its approval on the basis of honest and formalized voting.”

            But as of now, “everything has been done for zeroing out any hopes that the July 1 measures are being organized to hear the voice of the people. I am convinced,” Inozemtsev concludes, “that each who goes to the polls or votes electronic will remember the choice he or she has made.”

            “With this choice, millions of Russians will have to live in a state which has annulled its own legitimacy. For how long, I am far from sure.”

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