by James Corbett
July 18, 2020
Remember way back three lifetimes ago (a.k.a. at the beginning of this year) when I wrote about Russia’s possible regime change?
If you don’t remember (or just need a refresher), Russian President Vladimir Putin kicked off 2020 with some bold moves, using his annual address to the nation’s Federal Assembly to “propose a number of constitutional amendments for discussion.” These “amendments” were not just administrative, either, but touched on some core issues, like forbidding top-level government officials from having foreign residence or citizenship and, infamously, repealing the clause limiting the president to two consecutive terms.
As you can imagine, there was much speculation at the time about what was going on, precisely. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Western pundits’ opinions converged on the idea that this was some sort of ploy by Putin to basically stay in power for the rest of his life (or at least a good chunk of it).
You might also recall that I was less sure of that conclusion, going so far as to state “it seems most likely that Putin will step down as planned in 2024 and the next president will have less power to shape the course of Russian politics single-handedly.”
Well, silly me. Looks like I was wrong. Maybe. You see, the Russian government held a national vote on the proposed constitutional reforms earlier this month and they passed with 77.8% support.
So what do the reforms state, specifically, and how will they impact the Russian Federation going forward?
Well, let’s look at some of the 206 amendments that have just been made to the existing Russian constitution, which represent the fifth set of reforms to the document since it was first adopted in the post-Soviet tumult of 1993.
- Article 79 and Article 125 have been amended to state that international law and the decisions of international organizations cannot override the Russian constitution.