Russia Increases Parliament’s Role
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
During his annual message to the Federal Assembly (Russian Parliament), the President of that nation, Vladimir Putin, proposed a series of constitutional amendments that he considered important for the development of Russia as a legitimate social state, one whose highest value lies, he said, in the freedoms and rights of citizens, the dignity of people and their welfare.
Putin proposed that a package of legislative actions to be put to a citizens’ vote, the outcome of which would serve to make the final decisions. Putin’s most publicized proposal was to transfer from the President to Parliament the power to approve nominations of the Prime Minister and members of the government.
It also gives Parliament the power to approve, on the proposal of the head of government, the appointment of all deputy prime ministers and federal ministers. However, the Prime Minister shall retain the power to dismiss the Prime Minister, his vice ministers and other ministers, when they lose their confidence or perform their duties incorrectly.
It consolidates the regular indexation of pensions and sets the minimum wage that cannot be below the level of the current subsistence minimum. It prohibits the adoption of foreign citizenship or any residence permit abroad for certain categories of public officials who hold positions critical to ensuring the country’s security and sovereignty, such as regional leaders, parliamentarians, ministers, heads of other federal agencies and judges.
It adjusts the requirements in order to ensure that candidates for the Russian presidency have permanent residence in the country for no less than 25 years and that they do not have citizenship or a residence permit in a foreign country.
It consolidates the status and role of the Council of State, so that the highest leaders of all regions of the country are included in this high legislative body.
Limits the priority of international law so that the requirements of international law and treaties, as well as the decisions of international bodies, may act on the territory of Russia only to the extent that they do not restrict the individual rights and freedoms of citizens, and do not contradict the [Russian Federation’s] Constitution.
It grants the Council of the Federation (the upper house of the Russian Parliament) the power to dismiss federal judges and, in some cases, to remove – on the proposal of its president – judges of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court.
It strengthens the role of the Constitutional Court, giving it the right to verify the constitutionality of federal laws that are initiated by the President, before they are signed by the Head of State.
It assigns to the Russian President the power to appoint the heads of law enforcement agencies, after agreement with the Council of the Federation.
Currently, under the Russian Constitution, the President only requires authorization from the State Duma to appoint the head of government and, after that, to appoint the head of the Cabinet, his
deputy ministers and all ministers.
Now Putin has proposed changing this order and entrusting the State Duma not only with the authorization, but also with the approval of the candidacy of the President of the Government of the Russian Federation, and then, on the proposal of the President of the Government, of all the deputy prime ministers and federal ministers”.
The Head of State will also be obliged to appoint them to the post, i.e. he will not have the power to reject the nominations of officials approved by Parliament.
Putin said that this is “a very serious change in the political system that will increase the role of Parliament, as well as the importance of the State Duma, the parliamentary parties and the accountability of the head of government and all members of the Cabinet.
He assured that they will assign greater responsibility in the formation of the Executive with “more responsibility for the policies that the Government implements”.
Currently, under the Russian Constitution, the President only requires authorization from the State Duma to appoint the head of government, and after that the President appoints the head of the Cabinet, his deputy ministers and all ministers.
Putin argues that greater responsibility in the formation of the executive augurs well for greater accountability in the policies that are implemented.
After the opinions of 75 experts with diverse profiles created to discuss the constitutional amendments proposed by Putin are known, they will be voted today, Thursday 30th, in the Duma.
January 31st, 2020.