On December 12, Russia celebrates an official holiday – Constitution Day. In fact, this document, adopted under President Yeltsin in 1993, is a solid foundation for the current political system of President Putin. It is noteworthy that since those truly revolutionary times, the Constitution has not actually changed. Perhaps it is in this foundation stone of the Russian state that the answers to numerous questions about the Russian understanding of politics, economics, human rights, the riddle of Putin and his power are hidden. Difficult questions, but these are the ones that colleagues journalists and political scientists constantly ask? Let’s try to figure it out.
It is no secret that society in Russia has been and remains for the most part rather conservative. Due to the prevailing political culture, it would rather prefer the over-centralized nature of the state system than maximum freedom and liberal philosophy in its modern sense. For example, whether we like it or not, any political force in Russia that builds its program on the basis of the now fashionable libertarianism is doomed to negligible support, even among the youth. Russians still remember quite well the history of their country, periods of unrest and political fragmentation, civil wars and related external interventions, loud falls of brilliant (half-world-sized) empires. Therefore, for them, a stable state is a categorical highest result and goal of social development, which they instinctively guard carefully and are afraid to lose. More recently, back in the late 1990s, the new Russia was on the verge of yet another collapse. And any citizen of Russia, regardless of their political views, will name you the one who stopped this disintegration. His name is Vladimir Putin. This narrative is firmly rooted in the public consciousness.
Hence, probably, the maximum centralization of the state hierarchy occurs, within which, albeit with some costs, the principle of separation of powers, provided for by the Russian Constitution, is implemented. Yes, you won’t find a special presidential “branch of power” in the main document, but de facto the Russian Federation is, as they say, a super-presidential republic dominated not by civil and public institutions, but by administrative mechanisms that are effective if there is a corresponding decree or instruction. president.
And here we come to the most interesting. The Russian Constitution of 1993 does not directly define the type of economic system of the Russian state, but clearly points to its basis – property. In Russia, private, state, municipal and other forms of ownership are recognized and protected in the same way. Land and other natural resources may also be owned. However, until now, the legitimacy of private ownership of subsoil, large infrastructure facilities, critical industries for the country (energy, military industry, various kinds of communications and road networks) raises many questions among the population.
Of course, by adopting the democratic Constitution of 1993, Russia only indicated its intention to move in the direction of the legal organization of society. But many countries have been following this path for centuries, and it should be noted that they are not always successful. Yes, and Russian citizens have enough reason to say that not all provisions of the basic law of their country work in practice. But I think some French from the streets of Paris and other European capitals can say the same about their Constitution.
However, the Russian Constitution, forgive us lawyers, was not written from scratch, but was based on the experience of the struggle for civil rights and the hardest search for an effective model for the structure of the state. It has demonstrated a unique vitality, being organically integrated into the modern political architecture of the country. We can say that the Constitution has stood the test of time, and Putin has withstood the test of the Constitution. After all, despite the constant proposals of various political forces about the need to change it, Putin did not change the country’s basic law for the sake of the momentary situation and his own political ambitions.