Well-known Russian economist speaks of Russian Constitution and democracy.
Leonid Paidiev graduated from Leningrad University in 1979. He is Doctor of Economy. He worked at Leningrad Institute for Economy and Finance and also worked for the Department of Finance and Planning Committee of the city government. He worked on improving revenues of local budgets and planning of the development of the regions. In 1990 he was elected a deputy for the legislature of Leningrad – Lensovet. There he worked as the budget committee deputy chairman, then as the Head of Department for Operation of Property. In November 1991 he started writing his dissertation at Leningrad Institute for Economy and Finance and working for the government’s Center for Economic Reforms. In March 1992 he was appointed the Head of Department for Demonopolization, Privatization and Development of New Economic Structures in Russian Ministry of Economics. In 1994 his Department was reorganized as Administration. He was in charge of privatization, demonopolization, stock market, insurance, private pension funds and mortgage market. In 1996 he was appointed the Chief Inspector of Auditor Chamber of the Russian Federation.
- Russian Constitution was adopted ten years ago. Many people say this Constitution needs some amendments. Do you agree with this statement and which amendments our Constitution can have?
- We should be aware of the purposes for making such amendments. The Constitution is composed in the mode increasing the authority of the President over the society. Earlier it was necessary and it may be necessary in future for understandable reasons: the society in our country is divided and polarized, it is hard to overcome the crisis and therefore we have to sacrifice something. In this situation it is better to introduce some authoritarian methods of executing power to the society than later to face the need of breaking the law for introducing such methods which resulted in military coup in some countries.
Being adjusted to the President, the Constitution does not represent the interests of big social groups. The question arises how their interests could be taken into account. These interests could be expressed in a competent mode and negotiated which is one of the functions of the state legislature – Duma. It had the opportunity to represent different positions, interests and groups of society. However, Duma was unable to influence the President.
Unfortunately, the main drawback caused by the current Constitution is it allowed the Presidential authority to serve oligarchs and ignore masses of common people. This is a serious problem. It created the idea among the people with left beliefs and representatives of small-sized business to correct the Constitution to have their interests taken into account. Unfortunately, this December elections for the Duma made such opportunity impossible. In fact, the Duma consists of the deputies appointed by the Kremlin, and if they vote contrary to the executive power wishes, they can be replaced because there is a big reserve of personnel. Duma will pass any law in the form the Kremlin wishes and does not play the role it could have by representing interests of different social groups – the poor, rich, workers, farmers and businessmen. If Duma does not have this role the problem of expressing the interests of such groups arises.
I can say there is no use of trying to establish the dictatorship of the Parliament and Parliamentary republic. After the last elections we realize the President and his team control everything. Parliamentary republic would change nothing, Duma would not represent different interests in any case. How can a businessmen living the depths of Russia and selling poultry or construction materials protect his interests? Today he/she at least knows that everything is controlled by the President. However, this businessman has less opportunities than it did before the elections. He/she can influence nothing. Had we Parliamentary republic, the elections would demonstrate that nothing had been change for protecting his/her interests as well. Therefore it is better to maintain the existing order. Some amendments leagalizing it should be made in the Constitution.
We have too many, dozens of “rotten places” as they are called in Great Britain. This is a small region with population of 40 thousand people which can elect the same number of deputies as a big city with population of several million people. Such unfair practice should be terminated because it creates corruption and bad relations. Everybody knows how elections are conducted in such regions. Changing this is the only amendment to the Constitution which should be really made.
- Can the President initiate the amendments in the Constitution to extend his term in power?
President Putin can do this because the State Duma – is under his absolute control. However, he has no reasons to extend his Presidential term and cause the arguments within the society because it is more convenient for him to be re-elected for the second term. Certainly, the President will receive different projects from political lobbyists who have to prove their authority. There are different modes, for example inventing a pseudo problem and pseudo enemy, then “solving” this “problem” and “defeating” the “enemy”. However, there are enough real problems.
Probably the President is intelligent enough to deal with real problems, and not with invented ones. Then, if his policy is proved to be successful, he can be re-elected for the third term if he wishes. If the President gets tired he will not want to be re-elected for the third term. The person the President will chose his successor will be elected President in this case.