Context:  The proposed changes in Russian constitution via a referendum is all set to give Vladimir Putin two more 6 year terms in power after the end of his current term in 2024.

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  • The preliminary results showed almost 65% people voted amongst which 78% voters supported the change.
  • Changes proposed were reorganisation of government, ban on gay marriages, primacy of constitution over international treaties and laws etc..
  • The most controversial change is starting afresh under the new constitution i.e as per current law no individual can get more than two consecutive presidential terms.
    • This rule remains the same but after amendments are made Mr. Putin can start on a new slate, else he would have to forgo one presidential term as he is in his second term till 2024.
  • The amendments also aim to enhance powers of the State Council which until now was merely an advisory body headed by Mr. Putin.
  • If he stays in power for two more terms i.e till 2026, he will be the longest serving Russian leader since Peter the Great. 

Challenges Ahead:

  • Economic Turmoil: IMF expects Russia's GDP to shrink by 6.6% in 2020 particularly due to after effects of pandemic impacting local business and oil prices.
  • Foreign Policy: Relation with the U.S and other Western countries is not good especially after the 2014 merger of Crimea into Russia owing to which sanctions were imposed on the country.
  • The Syrian Crisis is further giving the country political as well as economic setbacks.

The Russian referendum promises stability for 16 years in a desperately unsettled world, beset by health challenges and erosion of the eternal geopolitical verities everywhere.

Brief Comparison of Indian and Russian Systems:

  • Constitution: The Russian Constitution was framed in 1993 while the Indian one was made in November 1949 and adopted in January 1950.
  • Form of Government: Russia has a Semi Presidential system of Government while India has a Parliamentary form of Government.
  • Citizenship: Russia recognises dual citizenship but there is no such provision in India.
  • Executive: In both countries PM is appointed by President but in Russia PM performs President’s Duty in case of his death or resignation while the same responsibility is given to V.P in case of India.
    • Authority of the President is Stronger in Russia while the PM enjoys more power in the case of India. 
    • Term of the Russian President is 6 years while it is 5 years for the Indian President. The former is directly elected while the latter is indirectly elected.
    • In Russia the President can’t have more than two consecutive terms in a row but there is no such limitation in India. This is the reason Mr. Putin is required to step down in 2024. 
  • Legislative: The lower house is called Duma and the upper house is called a Federation Council. 
    • Duma is more powerful just like Loksabha is more powerful than Rajya Sabha.
    • Duma members are chosen by the Proportional Representation System while Lok Sabha members are chosen by First Past the Post System.
    • Duma has the power to pass a No-Confidence vote but the same can be discarded by President however this can’t be done by Indian President in case of Lok Sabha. 
  • Judiciary: There is not a Single Integrated Judiciary in Russia like in India. There is an independent Constitutional Court and Supreme Court at the apex.  
    • The Constitutional Court is authorized to adjudicate disputes between the executive and legislative branches and between Moscow and the regional and local governments.
    • The Supreme Court of Russia is the highest court and supervises inferior courts of general jurisdiction.




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