Constitutional Court rules in favour of Putin . . .
Russia’s Constitutional Court approved a set of constitutional amendments Monday that were proposed by President Vladimir Putin in January and then ‘rubber-stamped’ by the Russian parliament in March. The constitutional amendments will increase parliamentary power, assert the priority of Russian law over international norms, outlaw same-sex marriage, enshrine the ‘belief in God,’ and, more importantly, strengthen Putin’s presidency by removing two-term limits. Under the current constitution, Putin’s presidency will end in 2024, but the amendments will allow him to potentially stay in power until 2036.
National referendum and COVID-19 . . .
Putin’s tactics to staying in power are not new. He served two, four-year terms as President from 2000 to 2008 and then became Prime Minister, while appointing his protégé Dmitry Medvedev as President. After extending the presidential term from four to six years through constitutional amendments, Putin was re-elected as President in 2012 and 2018. The Kremlin, meanwhile, has been able to silence opposition leaders and control public demonstrations. The COVID-19 pandemic has now provided justification for restricting public protests until April 22, when the national referendum on the constitutional amendments is scheduled to occur. All major cities have banned public events involving more than 5,000 people to help contain the current outbreak.
Russia playing both sides in the Asia Pacific . . .
The constitutional amendments mean that Putin’s foreign policy is here to stay. Putin has continued to reinforce a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ with China, which has been a key partner in Russia’s global strategy against the Western bloc. But at the same time, Russia has also engaged India, Japan, both Koreas, Mongolia, Vietnam, and ASEAN states to increase Russian presence in the Asia Pacific to balance against China. In this context, unlike in Europe, Putin might actually play a constructive role with regard to North Korea, which has been regarded as a key obstacle for economic collaboration with South Korea and Japan.
- Al Jazeera: Russian Court backs move to let Putin stay in power
- Deutsche Welle: Russia: Putin signs law that could keep him in power until 2036
- New York Times: Russia’s Highest Court opens way for Putin to rule until 2036