Constitutional reform: Kremlin hits the gas

On Monday the Kremlin submitted to parliament the draft constitutional amendments that were announced only last week. People in Russia are now wondering why Putin has convened a 75-member working group to flesh out over the course of the next few months the constitutional amendments he proposed. Reactions by Russian journalists vary from bitterness to resignation.

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Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Citizens are nothing but extras

Anton Orech of Echo of Moscow comments sarcastically on the rapid pace of events:

“At this rate I wouldn't be surprised if we were told on Friday that the referendum is to take place on Sunday. Or even if I woke up and heard in the morning that the referendum took place while I was asleep. Or while everyone was asleep. To be frank, that's exactly what's happening. Everything was decided long ago, above our heads. They only need us as witnesses, like during a house search - people who happened to come by but have no influence, who are present and just sign where they're told to sign.”

Wedomosti (RU) /

All state power derives from the president?

Now the true balance of power in Russia has been exposed, Vedomosti writes:

“Thank you for your openness. There was little doubt anyway that the transformation from a super-presidential to a super-Putinist system would take place quickly and according to the president's instructions. The working group will not grieve - these people are used to supporting all the president's initiatives. But the society whose representatives this group was - if only to a limited extent - must almost inevitably feel excluded. It has no say on the amendments to the constitution under which the country lives and under which all state power derives from the people. Incidentally, there is no possibility to change this article of the Constitution.”