Russia's new constitution: what is the real goal?

On 22 April the Russian people are to approve a host of amendments to the country's constitution in a referendum not provided for in the electoral law. The changes were brought before the Duma by Russian President Vladimir Putin and include reforms of the state structure and various references to Russian fundamental values. Journalists explain that these references are not what really counts here.

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Novaya Gazeta (RU) /

Row over details just a diversion

For Novaya Gazeta the debate about the new contents of the constitution is a red herring:

“All these corrections - the funny ones like the reference to God, the anachronic ones like 'Family is a union between man and woman', and the horrible ones like those that forbid Navalny from running for president and allow Russia to ignore international court decisions - are all trifles compared with the main amendment that started all this: which is the fact that the Constitution is being changed. Because once all these changes are adopted we will have a new constitution and this will automatically give Putin the right to run for a new term in 2024. ... The adoption of the constitutional amendments is simply a reset button for the number of terms in office.”

nv.ua (UA) /

Putin's legacy will be destroyed after his death

The constitutional changes won't last forever, journalist Ivan Yakovyna writes in Novoye Vremya:

“First of all, Putin wants to enshrine the existence of God and belief in him in the Russian constitution. Secondly, he wants to ban calls for Crimea to be given back to Ukraine. Thirdly, he wants to prohibit same-sex marriage and define the family as a 'union between a man and a woman'. And fourthly, he wants Russian to be made the standard state language and the Russian Federation to be declared the legal successor of the USSR. Regardless of how one might feel about these changes, only one fact is truly counts: as soon as Putin dies Russia will immediately be given a new constitution. Putin's legacy will then be destroyed.”