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‘Russian president has more powers than tsar, pharaoh & Soviet general secretary combined’ – Communist Party leader

‘Russian president has more powers than tsar, pharaoh & Soviet general secretary combined’ – Communist Party leader
First, Vladimir Putin accused Russia’s largest opposition party of seeking to recreate a one-party state, and now its top official has hit back by blasting the power concentrated in the Kremlin under a “hyper-presidential” system.

Gennady Zyuganov, speaking on the ‘Krasnaya Liniya’ (Red Line) YouTube channel, said his party (the KPRF) cannot back the Kremlin’s amendments to the constitution because they fail to tackle “presidential autocracy and the dominance of the oligarchy.” On Sunday, Putin described the Communist leader's position on the modifications as “strange.”

“We have insisted on alterations to the constitution for a long time. Therefore, when the president went forward and announced the idea of constitutional reform, we were happy about it,” Zyuganov said.

“I am very much in favor of a strong state, for territorial integrity... but we are categorically against zeroing the presidential term limits.”

The longtime KPRF chief was referring to proposals to restrict all future Russian presidents to serving just two stints in the Kremlin, which would also mean resetting Putin’s record so his previous spells aren’t counted. In theory, Putin could seek re-election two more times, potentially keeping him in office until 2036.

The Communist Party leader also complained that the main proposals of his party, put forward in the form of bills, were ignored by the pro-Putin, ruling ‘United Russia.’ Most notably, the State Duma (national parliament) did not support the abolition of controversial pension reforms that saw retirement ages rise sharply in Russia.

“Why [not wait] for four more years, get the country out of the [current] crisis and prove that your policies are right, help people recover from the epidemic?” Zyuganov asked Putin.

“Today, the president of Russia has more powers than the tsar, pharaoh and [Soviet] general secretary combined, it is unacceptable.”

Putin rubbished this argument on Sunday, saying under the proposed new rules, the president actually “gives up some very significant powers.” He argued that the proposed changes are “another step towards democratization” in Russia, claiming that they strengthen the input of parliament.

Zyuganov went on to attack West-leaning opposition figures who have called for their supporters not to turn out for the July 1 vote. “There are those who shout: ‘Let’s boycott, let’s not go [to the polls]!’ But we are for active civic engagement, we love the country. To do this, you need to show some determination and character,” he added.

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On Sunday, Putin accused the Communists of calling on their supporters to reject the constitutional changes because they “have always advocated the dictatorship of the proletariat,” and seek its restoration. The party has applied to hold a major protest in Moscow on June 27, close to the Kremlin, to highlight its opposition to the amendments.

The July 1 national vote on the proposed constitution was initially scheduled for April 22 but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The alterations include the classification of marriage as solely a union between a man and a woman, the indexation of pensions, mention of God, and banning important officials from having foreign citizenship.

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