Russian political commentator Dmitri Oreshkin, writing in the Moscow Times:
What is most interesting about the term increases for State Duma deputies to five years and for the president to six years is the reaction to these changes. We heard hearty, prolonged applause by the Kremlin lackeys in the audience when President Dmitry Medvedev made his announcement in the state-of-the-nation address on Nov. 5. On the other hand, ordinary Russians are strangely silent on the issue.
The game that the Kremlin is playing with the people has taken a new turn. At some point, Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will have to show their cards. Although most people probably have a good idea of what might be up the leaders’ sleeves, they are not ready to believe it completely.
Why was this plan thrown together so hastily? After all, there are more than three years until the next elections, which is ample time for a thorough public discussion and a referendum on such an important matter involving a change to the Constitution. Moreover, given the government’s control over the media, getting a mandate from the people on Duma and presidential term extensions would not have been difficult.
Continue reading →
Paul Goble reports:
Vladimir Putin’s establishment of “a vertical of power” and his promotion of the idea of “sovereign democracy” have combined with the indifference of the overwhelming majority of Russians to subvert all the key provisions of the 1993 constitution, according to the man who oversaw the drafting of that document’s final version.
In an article in the November issue of “Znamya” timed to correspond to the 15th anniversary of Russia’s “basic law,” Sergei Filatov argues that the 1993 constitution, which was born “in the sharpest struggle of various social-political forces,” played “an important role in the stabilization of the political situation in the 1990s.” That document “defines our state as democratic, legal, federal, and social with a division of power among legislative, executive and judicial functions,” Filatov says, and if it is realized, its provisions open the war for Russia to become a modern, open, stable and strong country with a maximum of human freedom.But since the rise of Vladimir Putin in 1999 and 2000, Filatov notes, Russia has gone in an entirely different direction, with the constitution ignored, the division of power suppressed and the population ignored and repressed. Such “a vector,” he continues, is “incompatible” with the rights of citizens and a strong Russian state respected around the world.
Continue reading →