2020 amendments to the Constitution of Russia
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The amendments of 2020, which were proposed in January 2020, are the second substantial amendments to the Constitution of Russia of 1993. To introduce these amendments, Putin proposed holding a national vote.. It is important to note that this is not a formal referendum with all of the legal protections, but instead an ad hoc institution.
President Vladimir Putin made that proposal during his annual address to the Federal Assembly on 15 January 2020.
According to the articles 136 and 108, amendments to the provisions of Chapters 3–8, require the same approval as a federal constitutional law, that is, a two-thirds supermajority vote in the State Duma, the lower house and a three-fourths supermajority vote in the Federation Council, the upper house, and come into force as they have passed the Regional legislatures of no less than two thirds of the 85 federal subjects.
The President formally submitted the bill to the State Duma on 20 January. On 11 March 2020, the State Duma, dominated by pro-government parties, swiftly approved the proposal in the third reading with no objection. On 16 March the Constitutional Court of Russia gave their approval to the amendments.
In total, 14 articles will be changed. In General, the following amendments are proposed:
- Remove the "in a row" clause from the article regulating the maximum number of presidential terms, discounting previous presidential terms before the amendment enters into force.
- Nullify the number of presidential terms served by the current President (Vladimir Putin) or former President (Dmitry Medvedev) to allow either (though most likely V. Putin) to serve his first term if elected to the presidency in 2024.
- The Russian Constitution should take precedence over international law;
- The State Duma (the lower house of Parliament) should have the right to approve the Prime Minister's candidacy (currently it only gives consent to his appointment), the State Duma will also be able to approve the candidates of Deputy Prime Ministers and Federal Ministers, the President will not be able to refuse their appointment, but in some cases will be able to remove them from office;
- Persons who hold "important positions for ensuring the country's security" (President, Ministers, judges, heads of regions) should not have foreign citizenship or residence permit in other countries, either at the time of their work in office or, in the case of the President, at any time before;
- A presidential candidate must live in Russia for at least 25 years (currently 10 years) and may not have ever in their life held foreign citizenship or residency (with no possibility of renouncing foreign citizenship to become eligible to be president);
- The Federation Council (the upper house of Parliament) will be able to propose that the President dismiss Federal judges; in some cases, the Federation Council, on the proposal of the President, will have the right to remove judges of the Constitutional and Supreme courts;
- Particular ministers who are the heads of law enforcement agencies must be appointed by the President in consultation with the Federation Council;
- The minimum wage cannot be lower than the subsistence minimum;
- Regular indexation of pensions;
- Consolidation of the status and role of the State Council (at present it is only an advisory body and is not prescribed in the Constitution);
- Granting the Constitutional Court the ability to check the constitutionality of laws adopted by the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation at the request of the President before they are signed by the President;
The amendments will be put to a national vote[a] initially called for April 2020 but later postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- ^ It is not a referendum that is held in accordance with the Constitution; but it is a nationwide voting that is an official term with legal meaning.