Poutine until 2036? Voters called to validate constitutional reform

Audio 02:58

Russian President Vladimir during the parade in Red Square, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary marking the victory of Russia over Nazi Germany celebrated on June 24 due to covid-19. REUTERS / Maxim Shemetov

By: Bruno Daroux Follow

We find as every Friday "The World in question" which is interested in the popular vote which began this week in Russia and which will end on July 1: Russian voters must approve or reject the constitutional reform project initiated by Vladimir Putin , and which could allow him in particular to remain in power until 2036. And the question we ask ourselves: Is the Russian President transforming his country into an autocratic regime?


The answer is yes. Of course Vladimir Putin would refuse to recognize himself in such a definition, since he made sure to maintain a decorum of a democratic facade. But this constitutional reform, subject to the approval of some 110 million voters, seems more than questionable from a democratic point of view.

Mainly because it looks more like a system built by and for one man - Vladimir Putin, than a real reform of the Constitution. It actually plans to reset the counters of the Russian president to zero - at the end of his current term in 2024.

On this date, Putin will therefore find himself in the totally fictitious situation of being as a candidate applying for the first time to the supreme mandate. And suddenly, he could run in 2024 and 2030, and therefore remain in power until 2036 - he would then be 83 years old.

The opposition, or what remains of it in "poutinian" Russia, denounces a constitutional putsch - like Alexei Navalny. But, between muzzled oppositions, a press essentially under orders, and the coronavirus crisis which, as elsewhere, anaesthetized society with confinement, this reform quietly continued on its path, first approved by an always docile Duma, and henceforth subject to a referendum - with an outcome which leaves little room for doubt - it should be approved.

This reform does not only concern the post of Vladimir Putin, but also strengthens some of his prerogatives, such as the appointment and dismissal of judges. A social touch, widely exploited in the funny election campaign - only by posters: the promise of indexing pensions forever to inflation, to win the hearts of many voters.

Finally, it anchors in a lasting manner in the texts a conservative, religious and family agenda: thus “faith in God” will henceforth be enshrined in the Constitution and marriage will be declared as being only a heterosexual institution.

In a few months, Vladimir Putin will therefore have won his bet beyond his expectations: a text doubly validated by the Parliament and the people, which guarantees him a job for life and reinforces this set of nationalist and traditional values.

Facing him, there is not much left: opponents prevented from demonstrating or imprisoned by a justice to orders and which will therefore be more and more with the adoption of this text, freedom of the press and expression at half-mast.

As we can see, Vladimir Putin is in the process of making his country an autocratic regime with a multicolored democratic facade. But it's a bit like a famous advertisement in the 80s: it looks like a democracy, it looks like a democracy, but it is no longer really - or not at all - a democracy.

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