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‘Constitutional Gymnastics’: Russia's strange initiative to keep Vladimir Putin in office for years to come

26 minutes
‘Constitutional Gymnastics’: Russia's strange initiative to keep Vladimir Putin in office for years to come

We’ve known it was coming since January when Vladimir Putin warned the nation, but now it’s moving at full throttle and threatens to inflict untold damage. No, it’s not the coronavirus — it's the other calamity currently unfolding in Russia: a massive campaign to rewrite the Constitution so that Vladimir Putin’s presidency might continue until 2036.

When this episode was recorded, all that stood between major constitutional reforms and enactment were a ruling from Russia’s Constitutional Court and a nationwide vote that draws the support of at least half the Russians who bother to vote. Federal and regional legislators have moved with lightning speed in the past week, all under a cloud of dubious legality. To find out more about what laws are being bent or trampled in the campaign to allow Vladimir Putin another two presidential terms, “The Naked Pravda” turned to three scholars in Russia and the UK.

In this episode:

  • (3:24) Ben Noble, an assistant professor in Russian politics at the University College London, explains that Russian lawmakers moved so quickly with the Kremlin's constitutional amendments because this was a top personal priority for Vladimir Putin.
  • (7:15) Ella Paneyakh, a sociologist at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg, argues that legislators waited until the last minute to move forward with many amendments, polluting the legislation with a lot of “bad law.”
  • (14:30) Jane Henderson, an academic lawyer at King's College London and an expert in Russia's legal system, breaks down the ways to revise Russia's Constitution and the pitfalls of the theoretical checks and balances put in place.

“The Naked Pravda” comes out on Fridays. Catch every new episode by subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the show, please write to Kevin Rothrock at [email protected] with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

Producer, sound editing, and mixing — Kevin Rothrock

Executive producer — Alexandr Sadikov

Music — Victor Davydov

Send any questions or comments to [email protected]

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