While using the war on terrorism as a mere excuse, Russian president Vladimir Putin has decided to strengthen his personal powers.
President's newly-developed plan entails that governors should no longer be elected by those people who live in the regions, but by delegates instead. President himself will provide the candidates. Political analysts are skeptical as to the fact that such drastic measures will aid to combat terrorism; they also doubt that such measures have in fact been conducted in accordance with the Constitution.
The other day, during a government’s meeting Vladimir Putin has made the following statement: “To ensure unity of the governmental authorities and a step-by-step development of federalism it is important that the Federation and its units will act together in the formation of executive governmental bodies on the territory of the Russian Federation. In this regard, I assume that high-ranking officials of the units of the Russian Federation will ought to be elected by Legislative Assemblies of those territories.”
Some critics have already announced last night that those amendments to the system proposed by the president regarding regional elections appear to be contradictory to the Russian Constitution. Independent delegate of the State Duma Vladimir Ryzhkov states that Putin’s initiative deviates from the resolution passed by the Constitutional Court on 18 January 1996 according to which election of a high-rank official of any unit of the Federation by delegates of a regional parliament contradicts the Constitution. Back then, the court constituted that head of a region had to acquire his mandate from residents.
Georgy Satarov, head of the INDEM Fund states: “Thing is, Putin’s proposition concerns not only his personal relationships with the governors. There exists another, perhaps quite meaningless for Mr. Putin, but surely important detail as the Russian citizens. 55th clause of the Constitution clearly states no law significantly diminishing citizens’ rights can be adopted in Russia. It appears obvious first of all that Putin simply robs Russian people of their right to vote. Second of all, there is a fundamental 3rd clause of the Russian Constitution that reads that all authority in the country belongs to the Russian people: they exercise it through delegates or by means of a referendum. It used to be that people had exercised their power through their representatives i.e. governors. But it appears that the president intends to remove them and suggest that those governors and heads of the republics became representatives of the president himself, not the people. Finally, Constitution also mentions that Russia is a federative state. Putin and the governors possess different mandates; Putin has a federal mandate, whereas the governors possess a mandate to manage Federal units. And this is where the mix up occurs, which inevitably leads to the destruction of federalism.
This is a drastic change of the country’s political system in general which will quite obviously result in rather unexpected consequences. This is in fact an unconstitutional upheaval if you want.”
A source from the president’s administration presumes that the new election system will take effect only after terms of acting governors expires.
According to another source, the new system poses certain risks for Federal government and for the president. “Whereas today governors are held responsible for the situation in the regions, afterward, all those problems will strike the president directly,” states the source. “As far as politics go, this move may have negative consequences for Federal government and the president in the long run."