Parliament will have the right to approve the candidacy of the head of government, his deputies, as well as federal ministers
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his message to the Federal Assembly on Wednesday, proposed a number of changes to the Constitution. Radio Liberty cites the main amendments that Putin spoke about.
Transfer to the State Duma part of the president’s powers
Parliament will have the right to approve the candidacy of the head of government, his deputies, as well as federal ministers. The President will be required to approve the proposed candidates and will not have the right to reject them. Putin stressed that the head of state will have the opportunity to remove the prime minister and other officials in case of loss of confidence. The president will also retain the right to lead the armed forces, but he will have to appoint the heads of the law enforcement agencies in agreement with the Federation Council.
Now the State Duma only gives the president consent to the candidacy of the prime minister and does not participate in any way in the formation of the government..
Two terms “contract“
Putin proposed to discuss the deletion of the word "contract" in the provision of the Constitution on the possibility of being elected President of Russia for no more than two terms. According to the head of state, he does not consider this a fundamental change. Although it is the word "contract" in the Basic Law allowed Putin to take the presidency again in 2012 – after two terms in 2000-2008.
Prohibition of foreign citizenship and other restrictions
At the same time, Vladimir Putin proposed to spell out in the Constitution a requirement for a presidential candidate to reside in Russia for at least 25 years. The candidate also must not have foreign citizenship or residence permit in another country. "And not only at the time of participation in the elections, but at any time before", – said Putin.
Officials and their residence permits
On various resources on the Internet, including anonymous telegram channels, many lists of high-ranking Russian officials are circulating, presumably with foreign citizenship or a residence permit. Members of the government (Deputy Chairman Olga Golodets, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Minister of Labor and Social Protection Maxim Topilin and others), and deputies (Irina Rodnina, Igor Lebedev, Nikolai Valuev and many others), and members of the Federation Council ( among them, in particular, Suleiman Kerimov and Andrey Klishas), as well as governors (Alexander Uss, Vladimir Golubev, Andrey Vorobyov and others).
These data are not confirmed and are given without sources. It can be assumed that in most cases they are based on the availability of foreign real estate by officials and their relatives, both officially declared and not. So, Olga Golodets really, according to the official declaration, owns half of the house in Switzerland and the third apartment in Italy. The wife of the Deputy Valuev has declared property in Spain – a residence permit in this country is attributed to the former boxer. The situation is similar with Minister Maxim Topilin, who presumably has a residence permit in Bulgaria: his declaration indicates a Bulgarian apartment and his wife’s garage. The hypothesis about the presence of the Belgian residence permit of the deputy Elena Mizulina probably goes back to the fact that her son lives and works in Belgium. Senator Andrei Klishas, the initiator of the scandalous laws on foreign agents and the sovereign Internet, does not have foreign real estate in his declaration, but investigators from the FBK Alexei Navalny claim that they have discovered a villa in Switzerland belonging to the politician, anonymous Telegram channels insist that Klishas also has a Swiss residence permit.
The presence of real estate does not guarantee and is not always a sufficient basis for obtaining a residence permit in the country. Moreover, in order to regularly visit his foreign villa or apartment, it is theoretically sufficient for a Russian official to have a regular tourist visa. On the other hand, this does not mean at all that none of the list of deputies, senators, governors and ministers, which includes dozens of names, supposedly having the right of permanent residence in other countries, in fact, has neither green cards, nor a residence permit, nor foreign citizenship.
Foreign citizenship and a residence permit abroad, as the president said, should not be for everyone who "holds positions critical to ensuring the security, sovereignty of the country", namely, from governors, members of the Federation Council, deputies of the State Duma, the chairman of the government, his deputies, federal ministers, heads of federal authorities and judges.
Powers of the State Council
Putin proposed to spell out in the constitution the powers of the State Council – the body that unites the heads of the subjects of the federation. At the same time, the president did not specify what he specifically means and what constitutional powers the State Council should have. Now this body usually meets once a year or less often and only plays an advisory role..
Priority over international law
Another proposal of Putin is to consolidate the priority of the Russian Constitution over international law. "This means that the requirements of international legislation and sentences, as well as decisions of international bodies can operate on the territory of Russia only to the extent that they … do not contradict our Constitution", – Putin explained. According to him, this will ensure the country’s sovereignty..
The right to remove judges – to the Federation Council
Putin also suggested "stipulate in the Constitution the powers of the Federation Council on the proposal of the President of Russia to dismiss judges of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts from office" – when "committing misdemeanors defaming honor and dignity".
Throughout the package of constitutional amendments, Vladimir Putin proposed to conduct "citizens vote". The head of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, has already announced that the CEC is ready to organize such a vote at any time after the amendments to the Basic Law are formally formulated..
At the same time, practically all the changes proposed by Putin today can be adopted without a popular vote. The only exception is the priority over international law, and in order to amend Article 15, which now prescribes the priority of international treaties, under the same constitution, it is necessary to convene a special Constitutional Assembly. The rest of the amendments can be adopted by a vote in parliament..
Russia’s Constitutional Amendments will keep Putin in power until 2036
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, commenting on Putin’s message to the Federal Assembly, said that the president’s only goal is to remain in power for life..
Navalny also commented on the president’s proposal to vote on amendments to the Constitution. According to the oppositionist, voters will not go to this referendum, so this "there will be some kind of cheating crap".
Social media users also pointed to contradictions in Putin’s proposal to introduce a mandatory requirement for a presidential candidate to reside in Russia for at least 25 years. The current head of state himself lived in the country for only 10 years before his election. Prior to that, he lived for 5 years in the GDR, where he was officially listed as an employee of the House of Soviet-German Friendship in Dresden, and unofficially – he was engaged in spying on Soviet and German citizens..
Putin’s supporters have traditionally praised the president before, during and after his speech. In particular, TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov posted on his Twitter almost all of the president’s statements that came to the news agency feeds..
The head of the RT TV channel Margarita Simonyan called Vladimir Putin’s speech the strongest since 2014, when Crimea was annexed..
Aram Gabrelyanov, a former publisher of Life.ru, compared the Russian president with "founding fathers of the United States" and added: "Great, of course, Vladimir Vladimirovich!"
Putin delivered a message to the Federal Assembly of Russia for the 16th time. This year the president spoke for over an hour. The performance was broadcast by federal channels, and also shown on the facades of Moscow buildings. Some social media users have compared it to footage from dystopian movies..
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