Constitutional reform in Russia

 

Sir, – The true scale of constitutional reform in Russia, approved by Russian citizens on July 1st, is remarkable and stands in contrast to the almost derogatory characterisation of it provided by The Irish Times in the editorial “Putin’s veneer of legitimacy” (July 6th).

For example, what you call the “modest reorganisation of government” is in fact an unprecedented rearrangement of powers between branches of government in Russia. It gives more competence to the state Duma (the lower chamber of the Russian parliament), enabling it to appoint the prime minister.

That alone creates completely different political landscape, providing for more competitive parliamentary elections and elevating the role of political parties and parliament in the Russian political system.

Furthermore, contrary to your belief that there is a “ban on gay marriage”, the constitution only stipulates that marriage is the union between a man and a woman, something which reflects the long-standing and overwhelming view of the Russian public.

There is also not much of a difference between the constitutional norm protecting the Russian language as our priceless heritage and efforts by the Irish State to protect the Irish language.

The defence of honest truth about the second World War and the victory over Nazism – for which the Russian and all the peoples of the then-Soviet Union paid an enormous price of more than 26 million lives – is of special, almost existential significance to all of us.

And, yes, Joseph Stalin – no matter what The Irish Times thinks of him – was one of the leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition, alongside with US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt and UK prime minister Winston Churchill.

As to the conduct of the poll, the Central Electoral Commission of Russia – widely regarded as a body of authority and integrity – certified that voting was carried out in an open, fair and orderly manner and without major incidents at the polling stations.

All in all, the overall thrust of the amendments to the constitution is to make Russia a better and more democratic country. It is an important step forward which deserves serious analysis. – Yours, etc,

YURIY FILATOV,

Ambassador of Russia

to Ireland,

Orwell Road,

Rathgar,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – Your editorial of July 6th clearly lays out the course of action adapted by Russian president Vladimir Putin to ensure a win in the referendum on the constitution, giving him the potential to run the country, without interruption, until 2036.

To continue to win elections, Mr Putin must remain popular.

Nationalism and patriotic fervour are promoted to deflect from any internal economic and social setbacks and to offset against a waning in popularity.

This takes the form of large military parades in Red Square with the odd external war, such as against Ukraine, Georgia and South Ossetia.

Mr Putin has form in this area.

Accordingly, these developments in Russia must be a cause for concern. – Yours, etc,

MICK O’BRIEN,

Kilkenny.