Staunton, October 24 – Prior to the adoption of the amendments to the Constitution that will allow Vladimir Putin to remain in office likely for life, many suggested that the State Council might become the central institution in the Russian government, one he could head and direct the country if he left the presidency as was then required in 2024, Nikolay Petrov says.
But the head of the Moscow Center for Political-Geography Research says that the Kremlin leader continues to push for new laws about the body. But these do not clarify what it will do or define the transformation of the Russian political system. Rather, “just the reverse” (vtimes.io/2020/10/24/o-novom-gossovete-i-novoi-konfiguratsii-vlasti-a1156).
According to the draft law, Petrov continues, “the composition of the State Council essentially, and what is the main thing, remains undefined,” including a wide swath of officials at the sole discretion of the president. Thus, instead of adding clarity to the Russian state system, it is making decision making more opaque and “expanding the president’s freedom of action.”
Petrov says that “one of the important consequences” that the new law entails is the opportunity the president will have to appoint “members of the federal government theads of regions or federal territories,” a move that almost certainly will further weaken federalism and exacerbate hyper-centralization.
In short, what the State Council will become is “a collective body of the president” rather than a new agency. The same person who heads the Russian Security Council will be in charge, thus establishing “two heads of the Russian eagle” of its traditional coat of arms – but with the president in charge of both.
Putin no longer needs the State Council to remain in office. He may use this to hand off some authority in particular cases so that he doesn’t have to get involved. But he can pull that back anytime thus reducing to almost zero any possibility that this body about which so much ink has been spilled will play any independent role.