Russia has moved on since early 1990s, so its constitution needs modern-day revamp, Austria’s ex-FM tells RT
“The Russian Federation in the year of 2020 is – in many regards, I would say – in a different situation than [it] was in 1993,” Austria's former chief diplomat said when asked for her take on the current nationwide vote over a slew of constitutional amendments.
Comparing “international circumstances, but also the nation’s economic and political situation,” Kneissl noted that the 1993 Russian constitution was written in the shadow of the Soviet Union’s collapse and was marked “by the breakdown of communism.”
Its spirit was “more about being a successor state than being the Russian Federation that we have today,” she pointed out. But as times change, so should the country’s governing document, the retired politician suggested.
I think there’s a need for meeting these new circumstances because a constitution is always the reflection of a society and also of the circumstances the country is in.
Kneissl herself noted she was “wondering” why the international news coverage was so obsessed with President Vladimir Putin’s chances of staying in power – a focus that has been making the rounds in the mainstream media for quite some time. “There are dozens of interesting provisions that should also be discussed,” she said.
The proposal that caught her eye says the state will ensure the intellectual and physical development of children and take care of orphans.
If there’s a provision that gives them this promise, a legal promise, that they have a role to play, that they have the right to education, to health service – I think this makes a certain difference, because I’m not aware that this is a topic really inside … many constitutions [that] I know.
Setting out the government’s social responsibilities towards the elderly is equally crucial, Kneissl said, harking back to the European experience in the not-so-distant past. “We have seen it in many countries, like for instance in Greece [during] the economic crisis of 2011-2012, when you have such a deep cut in pensions that can really trigger a social crisis,” she recalled.
Her comments come as people go to the polls across Russia on Wednesday, which has been declared a non-working holiday by the government. Voters are expected to say “yes” or “no” to a package of provisions that would give the current constitution an overhaul.
Some of them broaden the parliament’s powers and introduce harsher background checks on government officials. Also, the proposed amendments would potentially allow Vladimir Putin to run for the presidency two more times.
Other changes endorse family values and enshrine social rights, including setting the minimum wage no lower than the living wage and adjusting pensions in line with inflation.
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