Human Rights Council speaks out against changes to the Constitution

posted 14 Dec 2013, 08:22 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 14 Dec 2013, 08:42 ]
9 December 2013

Source: (info)
The Russian Federation’s Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights has issued a statement on the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution.

“On 25th December 1993, the Constitution of the Russian Federation entered into force, securing the status of our country as a democratic, federal, social, secular state based on the rule of law, and at the same time, the legal means to achieve this lofty goal. More than once over the past two decades, its guidance has helped us not to lose our way, and not to permit a return to the stereotypes of the past.

And, although many safeguards for the rights and freedoms of man and citizens have not yet been fully realised, for many tens of millions of Russians the freedoms of conscience, speech, media, movement, labour, the right of association and so on, have become commonplace. The rights to private property and freedom of enterprise have become stronger.

All of this is the fruit of the Constitution.

The fundamental law, based on the idea of a state that limits itself by law, was born of a tough political crisis, the causes of which included an inability to compromise and the eternal temptation to use force. The existing constitutional norms had lost all credibility at that time, becoming the subject of endless changes for the sake of political expediency. We must never forget this lesson.

Today, more than ever, it is important we have a stable constitutional foundation.

That is why we view with perplexity and dismay the increasingly frequent attempts in recent years to change the Constitution, including its preamble and fundamental principles.

To increase the powers of the head of state, to return to an ideological monopoly, to establish a state religion would be to undermine the credibility not only of the fundamental law, but also of authority in the state itself.

Today, as 20 years ago, it is important we have a public consensus on key issues. Chief among them is a consensus with regards to the Constitution.

It is the Constitution which is the chief guarantee of our development in the direction of a democratic federal social state based on the rule of law. A full, broad amnesty to mark the anniversary of the Constitution would also be an important step in this direction. It would be most consistent with the spirit of the Constitution.”

Declaration signed by Council members:

Svetlana Aivazova, Lev Ambinder, Radiy Batyrshin, Evgeny Barbov, Maria Bolshakova, Aleksandr Verkhovsky, Sergei Vorobev, Elizaveta Glinka, Pavel Gusev, Iosef Diskin, Danil Londurei, Natalya Yevdokinova, Ivan Zasursky, Kirill Kabanov, Igor Kalyapin, Sergei Karazanov, Irina Kirkova, Yury Kastanov, Boris Kravchenko, Sergei Krivenko, Stanislav Kucher, Raisa Lukutsova, Elena Masiuk, Tamara Morshakova, Aleksandr Mukomolov, Evgeny Misovsky, Leonid Nikitinsky, Elena Nikolaeva, Leonid Parfenov, Igor Pastukhov, Mara Polyakova, Ella Polyakova, Vladimir Ryakhovsky, Anita Soboleva, Elena Topoleva-Soldunova, Irina Khakamada, Pavel Chikov, Ilya Shablinsky, Lilya Shibanova, Sergei Tsiplenkov, Igor Yurgens, Andrei Yurov, chair of the Council Mikhail Fedotov.

Presidential Council for the development of Civil Society and Human Rights

Translated by Nathalie Corbett