ISSN 2330-717X

Call For Vote On Constitutional Changes Intended To Show ‘Putin Above The Law’ – OpEd


Vladimir Putin’s call for a referendum on changes in the Constitution, Aleksey Shaburov says, raises many questions because such a step is not required by the current constitution or existing law. Indeed, it contradicts the specific provisions of the constitutional law regarding changes in the basic document.

But there is “a more philosophical explanation” for this proposal and the fact that it contradicts the Constitution and existing law, the editor of Yekaterinburg’s Politsovet portal  says, and that is this: it is intended to show that “Putin’s will is above the law” (

Indeed, to the extent that it makes that clear, what might seem to be a problem given the contradiction involved is in fact an advantage, at least to those like Putin who want to see his preeminence stressed regardless of its consequences for the existing Constitution or the rule of law in the Russian Federation.

In his commentary on this, Shaburov provides a detailed history of Russia’s constitutional arrangements as established in a 1999 law in order to show that what Putin and his supporters have been seeking is a contradiction of the country’s legal order, a contradiction that has confounded many but that is explicable if Shaburov’s conclusion is correct.

As such, Putin’s proposal for how to ratify the accord, although it has attracted less attention than the specific changes he has called for, may end by being the most important change that his moves to modify the basic document involve. It could even be the case, Shaburov suggests, that this is exactly what the Kremlin leader intends.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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