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The 1993 Constitution

 

Russia now has a modern political system and a constitution that meets international standards and guarantees free elections. The 1993 Constitution is distinctly different from all Soviet constitutions. The latter were, chiefly, propaganda documents, full of communist dogmas, and designed to camouflage the communist partys power monopoly. The new Constitution is a functional document, which meets international standards and the requirements of a modern political system.  

 

It defines the Russian Federation as a democratic, federative, rule-of-law state with a republican form of government. It recognizes ideological and political pluralism, the principle of the separation of powers, and the right of private ownership. It states that: The individual and his rights and freedoms are the supreme value. Recognition, observance and protection of human and civil rights and freedoms are the obligation of the state.

The new Constitution guarantees the separation of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government and their independence from each other. State power is vested in the president, the Federal Assembly, and the court of the Russian Federation. Ideological differences, full freedom of speech, a multiparty system, and the right to private property are recognized as legitimate. Each citizen is guaranteed security, free medical services, and free preschool and secondary education. Among the responsibilities placed on citizens are the obligations of defending the country, the carrying out of military obligations, the safeguarding of nature, and the payment of taxes. The interpretation of the constitution lies within the competence of the Constitutional Court, which is comprised of 19 judges nominated by the president and approved by the Federation Council.

Amendments to the Constitution can only be made in the form of a federal constitutional law, which is considered passed if approved by no less than three-quarters of the Federation Council members, by no less than two-thirds of the State Duma deputies, and by the legislative assemblies of no less than two-thirds of the constituent territories of the Russian Federation. An even more complex procedure applies when amendments entail changes to the principles of the constitutional system. Such cases may involve holding a referendum.

All this makes amendments and revisions of the Constitution difficult to make. This has been done deliberately to correct the negative experiences of the past when the previous Constitution, which was adopted in 1978, had more than 300 amendments and changes made to it, which only added to the chaos and political instability of the early 1990s. As of today, no amendments have been made to the Constitution since its adoption in 1993. In this sense, the Constitution serves as an important framework document that provides stability of the Russian constitutional and legal environment and facilitates the continuation of progressive political, social, and economic changes.

The full text of the Constitution of the Russian Federation is available here.

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