The new amendments of 2020 to the Russian constitution are making drastic changes to modern day Russia. The changes proposed in January 2020 are the second substantial amendments to the constitution since 1993.
There are 11 changes which have been made to cover a wide range of legal matters. This includes term limits for the president and prime minster, regulations and rules on the appointments of figures to key positions within the Russian Government, and granting the Constitutional Court the ability to check the legality of Russia’s laws and their adherence to the constitution itself. Each of the new amendments are listed below:
- Remove the “in a row” clause from the article regulating the maximum number of presidential terms, discounting previous presidential terms before the amendment enters into force.
- The Russian Constitution should take precedence over international law;
- The state Duma (the lower house of Parliament) should have the right to approve the Prime Minister’s candidacy (currently it only gives consent to his appointment), the State Duma will also be able to approve the candidates of Deputy Prime Ministers and Federal Ministers, the President will not be able to refuse their appointment, but in some cases will be able to remove them from office;
- Persons who hold “important positions for ensuring the country’s security” (President, Ministers, judges, heads of regions) should not have foreign citizenship or residence permit in other countries, either at the time of their work in office or, in the case of the President, at any time before;
- A presidential candidate must live in Russia for at least 25 years (currently 10 years);
- The Federation Council (the upper house of Parliament) will be able to propose that the President dismiss Federal judges; in some cases, the Federation Council, on the proposal of the President, will have the right to remove judges of the Constitutional and Supreme courts;
- Heads of law enforcement agencies must be appointed by the President in consultation with the Federation Council;
- The minimum wage cannot be lower than the subsistence minimum;
- Regular indexation of pensions;
- Consolidation of the status and role of the State Council (at present it is only an advisory body and is not prescribed in the Constitution);
- Granting the Constitutional Court the ability to check the constitutionality of laws adopted by the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation at the request of the President before they are signed by the President;
The major changes which have been made have suffered heavy criticism. This has been mainly directed towards, the new ability made in regards to official appointments and the presidential term limits now being removed. The latter is especially controversial, as it allows Vladimir Putin to continue his role as president for the foreseeable future, no longer needing the tandemocracy system he and Dimitri Medvedev utilised to maintain power hitherto. This has brought unease to many factions within Russian Federations. with many groups such as The People’s Freedom, International, People Against Corruption party’s and more now believe the Russian government is going back to the unaccountable methods of the Soviet Union.
Other changes to the constitution also effect the eligibility of those who wish to run for important positions within Russian society, including the roles of president, prime minster, judges and regional leaders. These changes include the requirement for candidates to live in the country for 25 years and must have no citizenship or residency in another country in order to stand.
Changes also extend the to appointment of law enforcement officials and judges, which has made many anti-corruption campaigners worry that they have no legal way to remove the high amount of legal and economic corruption with in the Russian Federation. This is because the new amendments places such power within the hands of the president and his chosen party members.
But one last major area of change is the power given to the Duma and Federation Council, allowing it the power to approve and remove many positions within the government as long as they have the approval of the president.
The changes therefore have established a greater centralization of power for the president to wield, preventing any possibility to reduce corruption or let people object to any later changes to the government’s autonomy. This is to ensure that the current government maintains its power and prevents it from falling into the hands of other factions within Russia. Through this, many are now led to believe that Russia’s ability to become a true democracy is now dead, leaving Putin to take his position as Russia’s new tsar’.