By Paul Goble
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” (politsovet.ru/65291-kak-golosovanie-po-izmeneniyu-konstitucii-postavit-putina-nad-zakonom.html).
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.