The State Duma (Lower House of the Russian Parliament) has approved this morning at first reading the draft amendments to the Constitution sent Monday by President Vladimir Putin to the deputies. Sand now opens a period of 15 days for legislators to submit their proposals for modification and proceed to the approval of the document in second reading by mid-February. The text approved today has received the support of the 432 parliamentarians present in the chamber, on a total of 450 seats that the Duma has, which means that 18 were absent.
The draft reform of Putin’s Magna Carta contemplates the strengthening of the prerogatives of Parliament and the Constitutional Court, the transformation of the State Council into an organ with executive powers, the prohibition of senior officials having nationality or residence permit in others countries, the limitation of the number of presidential terms exclusively to two, the primacy of the Russian Constitution over agreements acquired internationally and the inclusion in its articles of social obligations such as the periodic update of pensions and the minimum wage.
Judging by the words spoken on Monday by Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, a referendum may not be necessary to submit constitutional changes to the citizenship criteria, since they do not affect articles that necessarily require such a procedure.
The idea of reforming the Basic Law was launched by the head of the Kremlin on the 15th during his annual address before the two Houses of Parliament. Upon finishing his speech, Putin urged to resign the then Prime Minister, Dmitri Medvedev, and the Government in full. He proposed Mikhail Mishustin to the front of the Executive, ratified the next day by the Duma.
And on Tuesday, the ministers of the new Cabinet were introduced, where almost half are new faces, although retaining the hard core of veterans loyal to the president. There are a total of 32 members, including the prime minister, and incorporates only three women. Within the framework of all these renovations, the top Russian leader has also dismissed the attorney general, Yuri Chaika, who has been replaced by Igor Krasnov.
The vast majority of analysts agree that everything is about a great Putin maneuver to continue sending after 2024, when his current and final presidential term ends. Although Parliament will have greater powers than now, the constitutional reform will hardly change the presidential character of the Russian political system. Yesterday Wednesday, Putin rejected the idea of his country becoming a “parliamentary republic”. In his opinion, “the president must be the main figure of the State … otherwise he would fall into the duplication of powers and that is very dangerous.”