The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the results of the Russian vote on constitutional amendments.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated on Thursday that the result was a clear sign of the Russian people’s trust in president Putin.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked Russians on Thursday for taking part in the vote on constitutional amendments.
“I want to express my gratitude to the Russian citizens, I want to say thank you very much for your support and trust,” Putin said at a meeting of the Pobeda (Victory) organising committee.
Russia’s political system and the economy are still at the formative stage since not so much time has passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, “by historical standards,” the president added, stressing that time is needed to strengthen the national stability.
“I understand the citizens who have voted against. Many problems remain unsolved, this is true. People often face injustice, unkindness and indifference. Many people face hardships, and we, the government, often think we are doing everything possible, while this is not exactly so … We often fall short of our targets, we should more quickly, precisely and efficiently,” Putin said.
According to Russia’s Central Election Commission, 77.92 percent of Russians supported the amendments, 21.27 percent voted against them, and the turnout totalled 67.97 percent.
The nationwide vote on constitutional amendments was originally planned for April 22 but had to be postponed over the threat of COVID-19. It was later officially scheduled for July 1 with six additional voting days to avoid the spread of the disease.
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered important changes to the constitution in his address to the parliament in mid-January. After both chambers of the Russian parliament passed the bill, an all-Russian vote on the amendments had to take place.
The nationwide vote on constitutional amendments was originally planned for 22 April, but had to be postponed due to the threat of COVID-19. It took place 1 July, with six additional voting days to avoid the spread of the disease.
The amendments are a sweeping set of changes to Russia’s basic law, which include protecting the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, setting children as a priority of Russia’s domestic policy, and many others. The previous version of the constitution was adopted by nationwide voting on 12 December 1993 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin imposed the 1993 constitution literally at gunpoint, after he sent tanks to shell the parliament.
The proposed changes include:
- Social and Economic Reform
One of the most longed-for amendments among the Russian population was the one that would “match minimum wage with the minimum standard cost of living”, which in Russia is calculated by the sum of baseline monthly utility bills, as well as grocery and essential non-food expenses.
With regard to pensions, the amendments provide for an annual indexation to keep payments compatible with inflation rates. The indexation will also be applied to social benefit payments.
The new constitution includes an amendment about protecting the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, setting children as a priority in the country’s domestic policy, and an obligation to support and protect the culture as the unique heritage of Russia’s multi-ethnic people.
- National Identity Reform
”The Russian Federation honours 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.
The proposed changes also aim to protect Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, prohibiting any attempts or calls to alienate part of its territory.
Another amendment establishes the status of the Russian language as the language of a nation-forming nation.
- Power Reform
The amendments envision a limit of two six-year terms for the president of the Russian Federation, regardless of whether they were served back-to-back.
The amendment also specifies its non-applicability to the incumbent president’s previous terms and, therefore, allows him to run for another two terms, should he choose to do so.
The State Duma now has the right to approve a candidate for prime minister of the Russian Federation proposed by the president. The president will then appoint the approved candidate.
According to another amendment, lawmakers, cabinet ministers, judges, and other federal-level officials are banned from holding dual citizenship or permanent residency abroad.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.