Tuesday, December 01, 2020, 00:38 (GMT+7)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020, 18:02 (GMT+7)
Russia’s Constitutional amendments and the fight for its national sovereignty

On July 3rd, 2020, with 77.92% of the votes for amending and supplementing the Constitution of 1993, President Vladimir Putin signed a Decree on the new Constitution of the Russian Federation (hereafter the Constitution of 2020). Changes in the country’s Constitution were aimed at confirming, consolidating and building an independent, sovereign, sustainably developed, prosperous Russia capable of actively contributing to an equal new world order for all of the countries across the globe.

Russia’s national sovereignty is unconditional

Being the successor of the former Soviet Union - the country that played a decisive role in rescuing human race from fascism in the World War II - one of the founding members of the United Nations, the Russian Federation must be a sovereign nation and it must be respected like any member of the international community. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union, although the Russian Federation decided to promote integration with the West, the U.S. and its allies continued to pursue a policy aimed at dissolving Russia. More specifically, under the U.S. Harvard Project, Washington’s missions after the Cold War were to dissolve Russia’s army, remove Russia on the world’s political chessboard in the three phases, namely “reshuffle” (1985-1990), “reform” (1990-1995) and “end” (1995-2000), divide Russia’s territory into 40-45 independent administrative, political and economic zones, completely eradicate socialist legacies in Russia, adopt private ownership comprehensively, and reduce Russia’s population by 10 times (about 30 million people only). Hence, in his 2020 Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin underlined that “Russia can be and can remain Russia only as a sovereign state; our nation’s sovereignty must be unconditional.” According to the Russian President, “It means literally the following: requirements of international law and treaties as well as decisions of international bodies can be valid on the Russian territory only to the point that they do not restrict the rights and freedoms of our people and citizens and do not contradict our Constitution.” President Putin’s message could be explained by the fact that the Russian Constitution of 1993 was designed on the advice of legal experts from America. In his visit to the U.S. and his speech to the U.S. Congress on June 17th, 1992 the then Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced Russia’s decision to pursue American-style freedom and democracy and invited American economic and legal experts to Moscow to assist this country in its “national reform.” With the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), US counsellors gave advice to Russia’s government on taking various measures for socio-economic and legal reform. Economically, Russia adopted a shock therapy with the large-scale privatisation of all economic sectors. Legally, Russia developed the first Constitution in the post-Soviet era in order to reform all of its political, military, security, educational, cultural and scientific systems with the hope of a “miraculous development” for the country. However, the measures proposed by Boris Yeltsin put Russian into a comprehensive crisis. Politically, Russia’s Constitution of 1993 “divested” the country of its own sovereignty. For example, in the item 4 of the Article 15, “If an international agreement of the Russian Federation establishes rules, which differ from those stipulated by law, then the rules of the international agreement shall be applied.” That means international agreements would be put above Russia’s Constitution. Besides, according to the item 1 of the Article 62, “A citizen of the Russian Federation may have citizenship of a foreign state (dual citizenship) in accordance with federal law or an international treaty of the Russian Federation.” Taking advantage of this item, a large number of Russian officials had dual citizenship and their individual assets were kept at foreign banks. It can’t be denied that the Russian Constitution of 1993 took away an important part of the country’s sovereignty. The reason is that after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the U.S. and its allies were determined to eliminate the Russian Federation on the world political chessboard, regardless of socialism or capitalism selected by this country. Therefore, the renewal policy by the then President Boris Yeltsin were completely dead and he had to cede his powers to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on December 31st, 1999.

After taking office in early 2000, President Putin advocated the building of an independent, sovereign, prosperous Russia and a global power. Thus, President Putin realised that the Russian Constitution of 1993 was a “time bomb” that would be “detonated” to damage the national sovereignty and erase the thousand-year history of Russia, including the heroic history of the Soviet Union. During Putin’s two decades in power, in spite of being besieged, embargoed, and drastically sabotaged from the external forces, under the President’s leadership, Russia has obtained achievements of utmost importance. In its fight for defending the national sovereignty, the Russian Federation has been confronted with the severest sanctions by the U.S. and its allies, which has been seen as the American “ultimatum” to Russia and especially President Putin. Against that backdrop, Russian officials sanctioned by the U.S. had to make a decision on opposing President Putin to protect their asset abroad or supporting him and then losing all. Those sanctions by the U.S. and its allies are all aimed at a “coup” in 2024. According to the Russian Constitution of 1993, Putin will not be eligible for the presidency of Russia by 2024. When that day comes, the opposition in Russia with the support from the U.S. and several Western countries will carry out the “second reform” to drive the country back to Yeltsin’s period; Russia’s achievements in the past 20 years will be removed and the country will fall into instability.

Amendments to the Constitution of 1993 aimed at confirming the national sovereignty

The amendments to the Constitution of 1993 are all centred on confirming Russia’s national sovereignty and turning the country into socio-economic, political and security powerhouse in the following decades. To that end, according to the Constitution of 2020, “decisions of interstate bodies adopted on the basis of provisions of international treaties of the Russian Federation in the interpretation contradicting the Constitution of Russia shall not be executed in the Russian Federation.” To prevent officials of Russian legislative and executive bodies from having dual citizenship, bank accounts and assets in other countries, according to the Law on introducing an amendment to Russian Federation Constitution, “All persons holding public office in the Russian Federation, heads of federal state agencies, shall not be allowed to hold citizenship of a foreign state or to have a residency permit or other document enabling its holder to permanently reside in a foreign country, as well as open and hold accounts (deposits), or keep money and valuables in foreign banks located outside of the Russian Federation.” That regulation will be applied to nominees for the presidency of Russia. Also, according to the Federal Law, “a candidate for President of the Russian Federation must be a citizen of the Russian Federation permanently residing in the Russian Federation for at least 25 years.” At the same time, the Constitution establishes that the Russian Federation is the successor (continuity state) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, recognising continuity in the development of the Russian state and the unity of the state resulting from the millennial history of the country; it is proclaimed that the Russian Federation honours the memory of defenders of the Fatherland and protects historical truth; the new law establishes the status of the Russian language as the language of a nation-forming nation; the state undertakes the obligation to support and protect culture as a unique heritage of Russia's multi-ethnic nation; the Russian Federation supports compatriots living abroad in exercising their rights, ensures the protection of their interests and the preservation of the Russian national cultural identity.

It is a matter of public concern that whether Russia’s Constitution of 2020 would limit the election of one person to the Presidency to two consecutive terms. In a discussion at the State Duma about changes in the Russian Constitution of 1993, parliamentarian Valentina Tereshkova believed that after 2024, Russia would have to face big challenges. She also thought that Putin with such great prestige would ensure Russia’s development and the world’s peace and security as well. Concern about the future of Russia after 2024 was the reason why all Russian parliamentarians and most of the Russian citizens allowed Putin to run for president. Russian journalist Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the English-language television news network RT, the Sputnik News Agency said that “he (Putin) used to be our President; now he is our leader; we won’t let you change him.” In the Article 81 of the Russian Constitution of 2020, one person cannot serve as President of the Russian Federation for more than two terms. This provision shall apply to the President of the Russian Federation in office as of the time this Law enters into force, discounting the number of terms during which such person has served in this position as of the time this Law enters into force (the fourth of July, 2020). So, pursuant to According to point 3 of article 81 of the Russian Constitution of 2020, the incumbent President Vladimir Putin has the right to seek re-election in 2024. If being elected to the Russian presidency in 2024 and 2030, Putin will possibly hold power until 2036.

To conclude, the amendments to the Russian Constitution have been approved by a majority of this country’s voters. Russia has completely regained its national sovereignty so that it would continue maintaining stability and prosperity and promoting its positive influence worldwide under the leadership of Vladimir Putin who always puts the Russian people’s interests first.

Sr. Col. LE THE MAU - Col. DO VAN MAI

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