The former head of the HRC Fedotov: the less change, the Constitution, the better

Экс-глава СПЧ Федотов: Чем реже меняют конституцию, тем лучше

How often should a country change the basic law and why don’t I need to hold a national referendum on the amendments – in an interview with the former head of the HRC Mikhail Fedotov.

The working group on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the former head of the Council on human rights under President of Russia (HRC) Mikhail Fedotov was not invited. But, as doctor of law, he prepared and sent out their expert opinions. Fedotov explained to DW why in General it is not against the amendments and the format in which they are taken.

DW: What are your comments on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation?

Mikhail Fedotov: the amendments proposed by the President, seem to me completely normal. My comments are purely of a legal nature. First, in the current amendments there are no transitional provisions. And without them it is unclear at what point those state agencies that receive new powers should be implemented. For example, the President can dismiss judges of the constitutional court. Well, but the amendment is unclear, this may make the current or future head of state?

Secondly, it bothers me that all the amendments as one big law. This is wrong from the point of view of the Federal law “On the procedure of amending the Constitution.” You need to divide it into two, and possibly three separate bills. One let a group of amendments on regulation of public power, in another, say, on the social rights of citizens.

Finally, I am opposed to change the preamble of the Constitution, although such proposals are coming. This is how to change the Foundation and build the house again.

– How many amendments were made to the Constitution of Russia for the last 25 years?


– You do not mind the speed with which it is now being amended? This is enough to amend the Basic law?

– I don’t think the point is, there is a discussion quickly or slowly. The result is important. If it is high quality and made in three days, why not.

– You participated in the creation of the 1993 Constitution. How long was this process?

Two years. Even more. But I will say this – regardless of any amendments made to the Constitution, as long as they were not accompanied by events of 1993, when there was a severe political crisis, which led in the end to bloodshed.

– How do you feel about the fact that the amendments to the Constitution bear on the confusing process of so-called popular vote?

– I do not understand in what format it will be. When we explain that it is for voting, it will be possible to evaluate. Now it’s the cat in the bag.

– The same popular vote as provided by the Constitution, it is only necessary for the first, second and ninth articles. This is a referendum. As for everything else…

– Maybe a vote is not necessary?

– In General, Yes, it is not required. Legal value it generally has. It is a political, ideological, whatever the value.

– That people felt ownership of change.

Yes. I would call it optional referendum. It is, first, unnecessary, and secondly, his decision for anybody not necessarily. If these amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation is supported by three fourths of the state Duma, two-thirds of the Federation Council and not less than two-thirds of the Legislative assemblies in the regions, the draft law on the amendment already goes to the President for signature. Well, if the President, the amendment will not like, he may appeal to the Supreme court. That’s all.

– Vladimir Putin said that the amendments to the Constitution are dictated by life. Whose life, however, did not elaborate. But, in your opinion, how often should the Constitution be updated?

– The less the better. The Constitution is like wine: the longer it is stored, the better its quality.

I was at the meetings of the working group on amendments to the Constitution. Seems that some legislators are quietly wrote to table some amendments and only after the President decided to share these thoughts.

– It’s not a false sense. There are many people who over the past 25 years said: “And that would be in the Constitution to add that, and clean – that’s it.” I too took part: in 2003, Mikhail Krasnov and Georgii Satarov has prepared proposals on changes to the Constitution. But I strongly said that if possible, it is better not to change. But if the Constitution of the Russian Federation all the same will change, here you are, a set of amendments.

– So, I had the opportunity this year to change the Constitution?

– Well, I wouldn’t change.

– Don’t you think that trying to participate seriously in the drafting of amendments, you just play along with this farce in which everything is predetermined in advance already?

Wait, if it was a farce, then you would have done differently. The President would have amended the state Duma, the Federation Council and the regions voted, and everyone is happy.

– As long as it does…

– Excuse me, but you can see what is happening with the discussion of these amendments? They planned that in February all three readings in the state Duma will pass, and then the Federation Council – “VIH”! And no “wih” does not work because there all new and new proposals. Here they are confused, they don’t know how to do… So it’s still long. I guess the final form these amendments will be completely different.

Экс-глава СПЧ Федотов: Чем реже меняют конституцию, тем лучше

Экс-глава СПЧ Федотов: Чем реже меняют конституцию, тем лучше