15-Jul-2020 13:51:46

Russia PutinReferendum

Russian President Vladimir Putin won the referendum vote which would allow him to extend his tenure as head of the country until 2036.

Who Is Vladimir Putin?

Vladimir Putin, already in power for 20 years as prime minister or president is the current president of Russia.Russian leader Vladimir Putin was born in 1952 in St. Petersburg (then known as Leningrad). After graduating from Leningrad State University, Putin began his career in the KGB as an intelligence officer in 1975. After the collapse of the soviet union in 1991, Putin retired from KGB and returned to Leningrad as a supporter of Anatoly Sobchak, a liberal politician. In 1994 Putin became the head of external relations and first deputy mayor of Leningrad( Currently known as St. Petersburg).

After Sobchak’s defeat in 1996, Putin resigned from his post and moved to Moscow. In 1998 he was appointed deputy head of management in Boris Yeltsin’s presidential administration, in charge of the Kremlin’s relations with the regional governments. In August 1999 Yeltsin dismissed his prime minister Sergey Stapashin together with his cabinet, and promoted Putin in his place.

Under the rule of Yelstin, the country suffered from widespread corruption. Russia suffered inflation, economic collapse and other enormous problems that affected Russia and other former states of the USSR. His administration is also marked by the invasion of Chechnya and a series of bizarre incidents. Followed by bad health and unpopularity in Russia, in 1999 Yeltsin resigned as president, appointing Putin acting president until official elections were held (in early 2000). He was re-elected in 2004.

Due to a two consecutive term limit in Russia, Putin was forced to leave the presidency in 2008, but not before securing the office for his protege Dmitry Medvedev.During Medvedev’s administration, the first amendments to the constitution of Russia were proposed in 2008 which extended the term of a president from four years to six years. The amendment came into force on 31 December 2008.Putin served as Medvedev’s prime minister until 2012 when he was re-elected as Russia’s president.

Russia Under Putin

Russia has seen major growth in the last 20 years under the rule of Putin. The Russian economy and the standard of living grew rapidly during the early period of Putin’s regime, fueled largely by a boom in the oil industry. During Putin's first two terms as president, he signed into law a series of liberal economic reforms, such as the flat income tax of 13 percent, reduced profits-tax, and new land and civil codes .Within this period, poverty in Russia reduced by more than half and real GDP has grown rapidly.

The political system under Putin has been described as incorporating some elements of economic liberalism, a lack of transparency in governance, cronyism, nepotism and pervasive corruption. This view has been supported by many, but it has also been characterized as "a systemic and institutionalized form" by others. Leading members of the opposition have become targets of violence, including assassinations and harassment, which they allege can be attributed to the government of Vladimir Putin. Many people who stood against Putin’s rule have suspiciously been killed under Putin’s regime.

In two decades Putin has consolidated power and strengthened Russia on the world stage. Since 1999, either as prime minister or president, Putin has been at the helm of affairs of the transcontinental nation.

Number of Votes in favor of Putin in the referendum

Almost 78% of the voters voted in favor of Putin that has extended his rule until 2036. In a week -long balloting, 78.56% voted for the change while 21.33 % voted against. Only one of Russia’s 85 regions voted against the amendments, a sparsely populated patch of Arctic circle known for reindeer herders i.e. the Nenets autonomous district voted against changes granting President Vladimir Putin the right to stay in power until 2036.

The reported numbers reflected the highest level of vote support for Putin in 10 years.

The amendments in the constitution, which were proposed in January 2020 are the second substantial amendments to the Constitution of Russia 1993.

Background of the bill

President Vladimir Putin originally made a new proposal regarding this bill during his annual address to the Federal Assembly on 15 January 2020. The President formally submitted the bill on constitutional amendments to the State Duma on 20 January. On 11 March 2020, the State Duma, dominated by pro-government parties, swiftly approved the proposal in the third reading with no objection By 13 March 2020 legislative assemblies of all 85 Federal subjects approved amendments to the Constitution. On 16 March the Constitutional Court of Russia gave their approval to the amendments

What will change with the constitutional reform?

The amendments allow sweeping changes in the constitution which would allow Putin to run again for two more six years presidential terms.

Other constitutional changes expand the role of the constitution, but they also strengthen the role of the already powerful role of the president. The president will have the power to dissolve the parliament if it refuses to support the candidacy of a minister proposed by the head of the state three times a row. The president will also have a greater say over the work of the Supreme Court and prosecutors.

The reforms enshrine a mention of Russians' "faith in God”, despite Russia’s long history as a secular country. The reform also mentions the” marriage is a union between a man and a woman “effectively banning gay marriages.The amendments also seek to protect the “historic truth” of Russia in World War II and honor the memory of the martyrs.The reform also places the constitution above the international law, giving priority to Russian legislation in case of contradiction with international statues. It also guarantees a minimum wage that should not be below the subsequent level and state pensions are regularly adjusted to inflation.Environmental reforms include “reducing the impact of economic activities on nature “and enshrine a “responsible attitude towards animals”.

Putin is 67 years old and will continue to rule until the age of 83. Many uncertainties are present regarding Putin’s rule. Will he continue to rule for life or will he give up in 2024? It took 20 years of Putin’s life to complete the journey from an elected president to an illegitimate dictator. It would be somewhat ironic if he decides to give up all in the end.