Putin Forever? – BBC News
At the St. Petersburg conference on the fate of the local parliament, the prospects for adopting amendments to the Russian Constitution were discussed
On Friday, January 31, the conference “25 years of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg” was held at the Museum of Political History of Russia. It was a repeated event, timed to coincide with the quarter-century anniversary of the city parliament of the “Northern Capital” of Russia. At the end of last year, a solemn meeting was held in the Mariinsky Palace, where the meetings of the city ZakSa are held, to which the current deputies were invited, as well as politicians representing the “party of power” and its satellites.
In response, former MPs who are in opposition to the Smolny Kremlin decided to stage an alternative event with the participation of political scientists, sociologists and public figures. There were also several current city parliamentarians who are known for their independent position at this conference..
“In fact, Putin wants to rule everything and not be responsible for anything.”
At first, the speakers stuck to the set topic and shared their thoughts on the work of the local Legislative Assembly over the past two and a half decades. However, the deputy Maxim Reznik proposed to consider what is happening in the city in the context of events throughout Russia. “We live in conditions of victorious authoritarianism, and today we are offered, in fact, to vote for the approval of the formula of Viacheslav Volodin:“ There is Putin – there is Russia, there is no Putin – there is no Russia ”. That is, for the indefinite rule of the current president “.
Later, in a conversation with a correspondent for the Russian service of the Voice of America, Reznik gave a detailed explanation of his thesis: “Everything does not happen at the same time. It cannot be said that before that we lived in conditions of developed democracy. All these years, democratic procedures were curtailed, human rights and freedoms were violated. It’s just that now these procedures have been given “afterburner”, the reasons for which are not explained to people in our country. And we see an attempt to perpetuate in power a specific person who has been leading the country for 20 years ”.
Maxim Reznik called this process “Turkmenbashization”, although, in his opinion, Volodin’s formula “is supported by a significant number of people in our country.” “But the problem is that people who don’t think so are practically deprived of the right to vote. We saw this at the recent Moscow elections, and I think we will observe this in connection with the refusal to register Navalny’s party, Gudkov’s party, Yabloko’s problems, and so on. It is impossible to discuss the history and future of parliamentarism in the absence of democracy. These things are interconnected, “continued the opposition deputy of the city parliament of St. Petersburg..
Maksim Reznik also stressed that he personally categorically disagrees with the wording “No Putin – not Russia.” “It is high time for the President to retire due to various circumstances. It is another matter that the president and his team have been destroying any political competition in our country for many years, and they continue to do so. Therefore, there are no mechanisms for transferring power and involving people in this mechanism..
Indeed, Vladimir Vladimirovich wants to steer everything and not be responsible for anything. He wants to do everything, ballet, Olympiad, construction projects, teach everyone history, educate the whole world, shake his finger at everyone, but at the same time everyone else is responsible for pensions and salaries in his country. Therefore, the whole country is preparing to stand up and, with pies and balls in hand, go to the vote to approve the amendments to the Constitution. But in fact, we are talking about the fact that the person decided to stay in power forever “, – summed up his comment Maxim Reznik.
“The issue of democracy is decided not in the State Duma, but on the streets of the country.”
Secretary of the Organization of Municipal Deputies of St. Petersburg Andrey Pivovarov, who attended the conference at the Museum of Russian Political History as a guest, believes that the real question of the upcoming vote on amendments to the Constitution is: “Do you want Putin to stay in power forever?” “We, that is, civil society, will do everything to ensure that the answer is no, because we believe that Putin should not be forever. We are now gathering a large coalition to fight against this together..
But even if this precedent is adopted, we can see what is happening in the elections throughout the country: St. Petersburg, Moscow, Khabarovsk, the Far East – everywhere people, in fact, say “no” to what is happening. Therefore, even if the amendments are passed, the issue of democracy is decided not in the State Duma and not personally by Vladimir Putin, but on the streets of the country, in the process of public life. Therefore, I am sure that changes in Russia are a question of four to five years, ”emphasizes Andrey Pivovarov.
“Nemtsov’s march will be not only memorial, but also political”
Another guest of the conference was the chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation “For Freedom” Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr.. He considers the amendments initiated by the President of the Russian Federation to be a “constitutional coup.” “We are talking about a radical revision of the fundamental provisions of our Basic Law. I will name only two things: the actual subordination of the judiciary and the prosecutor’s office to the president, and second, even more important, the abolition of the principle of priority of international law over national legislation. This is the basic principle that was laid down in our Constitution from the very beginning. It implies the possibility for Russian citizens to resort to the mechanisms of legal protection of the institutions of the Council of Europe. And to enjoy the rights that are guaranteed to the citizens of Russia, as a member state of the Council of Europe under the European Convention on Human Rights, “he explained in an interview with the correspondent of the Russian service” Voice of America “.
Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. added that he flew to St. Petersburg from Strasbourg, where he observed the work of the PACE winter session. And, according to him, the planned changes to the Russian Basic Law were one of the most actively discussed topics by the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. “They said that with these amendments and changes, the Putin regime, in fact, negates one of the main obligations of our country to the Council of Europe, and most importantly, that it negates the possibility for millions of Russian citizens to enjoy the protection of the mechanism of the Council of Europe, and above all, the European Court of Justice. human rights “, – testifies the interlocutor of the” Voice of America “.
And he adds that in addition to the constitutional coup, there is a formally legalized usurpation of power, which in fact took place a long time ago. “One and the same person should not be in power for 20 years in a European country of the 21st century. But a whole generation in our country grew up without remembering or knowing any other political reality, “says the chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation” For Freedom “.
At the same time, Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. recalls that the plans of authoritarian leaders of different countries to retain power through legal tricks are not always implemented. “There was Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, there was Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine, and quite recently Serzh Sargsyan was in Armenia. But we see from the example of these countries and many others that when such plans meet massive and organized resistance from society, they can crumble at once..
Sometimes it happens that the reaction is delayed for a while, such examples are also known. But let’s see how many people will come out on February 29 this year for the marches in memory of Boris Efimovich Nemtsov throughout Russia. This year marks 5 years since his dastardly murder, during which the organizers and customers of this crime continue to be under the full protection of the highest level of the Russian government. And here we, again, have to resort to the help of international institutions in search of at least minimal justice..
But this year, as we understand, the march will be not only memorial, but also political. If Boris Nemtsov was alive today, he would be in the forefront of the protest against the usurpation of power and the ongoing constitutional coup, “concluded Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr..