To be voted on 1st July 2020

The amendments can be divided into several categories.

1. The first category contains those amendments that truly change the balance of power in the Russian political system. They formally give the President greater direct control over the executive.

  • Following the amendment of the Constitution, the President will take overall charge of the work of the government, and the Prime Minister will no longer determine the priorities of the government’s activities. Executive power, which formally has been in the hands of the Prime Minister, will be divided. Some members of the cabinet, mainly the ‘siloviki’, will be supervised by the President, and others (the ‘civilian’ ministries) by the Prime Minister. Moreover, these two groups will be appointed in different ways. The Prime Minister will be personally accountable to the President, which means that his dismissal will not automatically mean the dismissal of the whole cabinet. The President will also have the power to determine which federal agencies fall under his power and which fall under the power of the Prime Minister.
  • There is a  requirement of permanent residence of a presidential candidate in Russia for at least 25 years, as well as the absence of foreign citizenship or residence permit of another state, not only at the time of participation in the elections but also in the past is now established in the Constitution.
  • The President forms the State Council of the Russian Federation to ensure coordinated interaction between state authorities and determine the main directions of domestic and foreign policy and the country’s social and economic development. The status of the State Council will be determined by special Federal Law. The amendments include the new  principle of a ‘single public authority system’ of various levels – federal, regional, and municipal; harmonious operation and co-operation between the authorities at these levels is to be guaranteed by the head of state.
  • The legislative procedure concerning the Federal Constitutional Law and Federal Law is supplemented by the President’s right to appeal to the Constitutional Court with a request to verify the constitutionality of the law approved by the parliament before signing it. If the constitutionality of the law is confirmed, the President signs it. If the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation does not confirm the constitutionality of the Federal Constitutional Law and Federal Law, then the head of state returns the law to the State Duma.
  • The number of judges of the Constitutional Court will be reduced from 19 to 11. At the request of the President of the Russian Federation, the Constitutional Court will verify the constitutionality of adopted laws, both federal and regional, before signing them.
  • The State Duma will now have the right to ‘approve’ a candidate of the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation proposed by the President. Minister. The President will appoint the approved candidate. The State Duma will also approve Deputy Prime Ministers and federal ministers (except those ministers whose activities are supervised by the President, in particular Ministers of the so-called ‘power bloc’ on the proposal of the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. If over one third of cabinet positions are not filled due to Duma’s objections, this is potential grounds for dissolving parliament. While the President will now have an obligation to ‘consult’ the Federation Council with respect to some appointments, the outcome of these consultations will not be binding.  The major federal executive authorities (including federal ministers) responsible for defense and security, internal affairs, justice, foreign affairs, and emergencies prevention, as well as prosecutors of Russian regions, will be appointed by the President of the Russian Federation after the consultations with the members of the Federation Council.
  • The Federation Council will suspend from duties judges of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and judges of courts of cassation and appeal on the recommendation of the President if they commit acts discrediting honor and dignity of a judge.
  • The President will also propose to the Federation Council candidates for appointment to the position of the Chairman of the Accounts Chamber and half of the total number of auditors of the Accounts Chamber. Also, in accordance with the amendments, the Federation Council will be responsible for holding hearings of the annual reports of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation on the observance of law and order in the country.
  • Increased requirements are introduced for persons exercising public authority whose powers are directly related to ensuring the country's security and state sovereignty, namely: to the Prime-Minister of the Russian Federation and his deputies, federal ministers, other heads of federal executive bodies, senior officials of regions of the Russian Federation, heads of federal state bodies, members of the Federation Council and the State Duma, judges. Having foreign citizenship or a residence permit of another country will be prohibited for them at the constitutional level. They will also be prohibited from having bank accounts abroad.
  • Immunity for the President of Russia, who ceased to exercise his powers, is introduced in the Constitution. At the same time, the former head of state may be deprived of immunity in the manner prescribed by Art.93 of the Constitution for the removal of the current head of state from office. In addition, former presidents will hold the office of senator for life (‘senator’ is a new constitutional term that describes members of the Federation Council)
  • There is also a new constitutional duty of the President to ‘maintain public order and harmony in the country.
  • One and the same person cannot serve more than two consecutive terms as president. This restriction does not apply however to the incumbent President or former President Dmitri Medvedev. Under an amendment made at the last minute, there will be a ‘reset’ of terms served before the new Constitution takes effect. Potentially, this would mean that Putin is able to serve until 2036, because the ‘reset’ does not mean that an early presidential election has to be held to renew Putin’s mandate.
  • According to the amendments, the headquarters of certain federal state authorities can be located not only in the capital of our country, Moscow but also in other cities defined by the Federal Constitutional Law.

2. The second category of amendments refers to ‘sovereignisation’ of Russia’s approach to its international legal obligations; the intention is to ensure prevalence of the Russian Constitution over international treaties and decisions of international bodies. It would be prohibited to implement the decisions of international bodies whenever they are based on ‘unconstitutional’ interpretation of international treaties ratified by Russia. Russia will also not comply with obligations imposed by international courts, including arbitration tribunals, if they constitute ‘a violation of the foundations  of legal public order of the Russian Federation’. In addition, it is also prohibited to take action, or incite action, aimed at separation of part of Russia’s territory; thus the annexation of the Crimea has been declared irreversible. The contradiction shall be established by the Constitutional Court.

3. The third category of amendments contains populist provisions. Some of them duplicate the current wording of statutes at constitutional level. This applies most of all to a welfare package, including a guarantee that: the minimum wage cannot be lower than the cost of living; welfare and pension payments are linked to inflation; pensions are adjusted to inflation no less than once a year. At the constitutional level, it is determined that the pension system is formed based on the principles of universality, justice and solidarity of generations. Realisation of these amendments is in any case dependent upon detailed secondary implementation laws. The populist amendments also include a commitment to provide support for ‘compatriots abroad’ , acknowledgement of the good of children as the ‘state’s highest priority’, and appreciation of ‘working people’ . Children are declared the most important state policy priority in Russia. The state should create conditions that contribute to the comprehensive spiritual, moral, intellectual and physical development of children, fostering patriotism, civic engagement and respect for elders. The state also takes care of orphans. Besides, the protection of family issues, maternity, paternity, and the institution of marriage have been included in the text of the new law.

4. The fourth category of amendments is those of an ideological nature; they describe the Russian nation as ‘state-forming’ (Russia is officially a multi-national state), the Russian language is the language of a nation-forming nation. There is also a reference to God and to the tradition and the legacy of the Soviet Union.  The Russian Federation honors the memory of defenders of the Fatherland and protects historical truth. Diminishing the significance of the people's heroism in defending the Fatherland is not permitted,” the text of the new law says.


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