Russia’s government originally announced a vote on proposed constitutional amendments to be held in April 2020. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vote was rescheduled for July 1, with early voting beginning on June 25. The United Communist Party (OKP) is recirculating this statement, originally issued on March 14, 2020.
On ‘constitutional reform’ and the procedure for a ‘popular vote’ on approval of amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation
Statement of the IV Plenum of the Central Committee of the United Communist Party (OKP)
Since the announcement of the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly on January 15, a noisy campaign has been launched in Russia to amend the Constitution of the country. While Russian propaganda writers vied with each other praising the “long-awaited presidential course for sovereignty” of the country and the “nationalization of Russian elites,” under the carpet of the Kremlin’s corridors of power there was a fierce struggle over the permissible limits of redrawing the already dictatorial Basic Law adopted on the blood of the rebellious people in September-October 1993. And most importantly — for defining the ultimate goal of such a restructuring, about which both the president himself and his immediate political circle simply chose to remain silent. The only thing the president has said repeatedly is the need to avoid “dual power” as a result of the transfer of some power to the State Council created back in 2000, as well as the need to maintain a firm “vertical presidency” as a guarantee of political stability in Russia.
However, the speed of the constitutional reform itself (from the moment of its announcement to the introduction of a package of amendments by the working group in the State Duma) could not fail to amaze even veterans of Russian politics. It should be recognized that never before in the history of a country has the text of the Basic Law — that is, from the adoption of the first Soviet Constitution of 1918 up to the 1977 “Brezhnev” Constitution of the USSR — been pushed ahead in such a hurry, and similarly the composition of the working group (read, the constitutional commission), incompetent in matters of state, has barely been developed. It took the so-called working group only three months to submit for approval to the Federal Assembly some 34 amendments to 9 articles of the Constitution. The only exception to the story was the “popular vote” upon the approval of the first “post-Soviet” “constitution on blood,” held in December 1993 on the same day as the elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation, which at that time did not even legally exist. The fact that, 30 years after the tragic events that led the country to the regime of presidential absolutism and the massive squandering of public property by the nouveau riche close to the Kremlin, the situation of the 1993 vote is largely repeated, best testifies to the deepest systemic crisis of the Yeltsin-Putin regime.
Participants in the Plenum of the Central Committee of the United Communist Party state that the announced popular vote on frankly reactionary amendments is not separable from the supposedly “social” and “patriotic” amendments. It is seen by the representatives of the bourgeois authorities as a direct endorsement of the course of the country’s ruling political regime, and, judging by recent events, a strictly personalized regime. The voting results will be seen only as a springboard for the further extension of the powers of the current president for at least two “constitutional” terms in a row. Based on this circumstance, the Plenum of the Central Committee of the OKP has the right to call on all members and supporters of the party, and all concerned citizens of the country, to show political determination and use any available forms to express their opposition to the further usurpation of power by representatives of the reactionary Russian bourgeoisie to strengthen the country’s dictatorial absolutist regime.
We urge citizens not to be deceived by the “social” and “patriotic” constitutional amendments initiated by the authorities, because it was by their efforts over the past 30 years that everything was done to dismantle the remnants of the social state in Russia, to deprive the masses of the multinational people (including the Russian people) of their natural right to dispose of natural resources, free education and medicine, a dignified old age, and even life itself. To the unprincipled calls to “repair” the current Constitution, making it “more popular,” we contrast the demand for its complete abolition, which is impossible in practice without dismantling the neoliberal political regime — the brainchild of the anti-Soviet counter-revolution in Russia. We are absolutely convinced that the current system of power has completely exhausted itself and cannot be corrected by any “overhaul.” Without a conscious, consistent movement of the country towards real democracy of the Soviet type and the return of property to the people and under the control of the people, there can be no talk of social peace, stability and prosperity in Russia.
That is why there should not be the slightest doubt that the current “constitutional reform” is nothing more than another coup d’etat, imposed on the people by the ruling political group in the name of further retaining unlimited power in their hands. In this regard, demanding its merciless exposure and disruption is completely justified and legitimate. It should not be forgotten that under the current repressive legislation, but more importantly, the extreme fragmentation of the left communist flank (i.e., in the absence of a powerful mobilization of the masses), urging citizens to actively boycott the vote would be the height of political irresponsibility.
In this situation, the Plenum of the Central Committee of the OKP strongly recommends that its supporters relentlessly explain to ordinary voters the inadmissibility of pushing through the tsarist amendments under the sauce of “expanding the rights of the government and parliament” while preserving the powerful “vertical presidency.”
We call on all concerned and politically active citizens to come to the polls and vote against the frankly reactionary amendments.
Our demands at the time of the “nationwide vote” — fraudulent in form and content — should be:
No — to deceiving the people under the flag of “constitutional reform”!
No — to the prolongation of capitalism in Russia!
No — to the bourgeois dictatorship, yes — to the democracy of the working people!
No — to the presidential autocracy and the State Council, yes — to the Soviets of workers and the Soviet constitution!
Moscow, March 14, 2020