In a long think piece published on October 9 in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia’s official newspaper of record, Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin argued passionately for “drastic reforms” to the country’s constitution. Zorkin’s article is a mixed bag, criticizing Russia’s current constitution for having too few checks and balances and “insufficient clarity” in division of powers between the presidency and government, while also warning against “outmoded liberal models of democracy” and the “risks and costs of globalization.” What follows is a short, paraphrased retelling of Zorkin’s text.
The Constitution has some imperfections, but they can be eliminated surgically. Russians are tired of reforms, injustice, and poverty. There’s no way to live in dignity: there was privatization in the 90s, and now millions of people are losing their jobs to computerization, plus there’s pension reform and corruption. The Constitutional Court protects Russian citizens. One party or one group shouldn’t be allowed to monopolize power, and the most effective system is a two-party government like in the United States. Instead of the outmoded liberal model of democracy, Russia needs a “more effective model of popular rule.” People want to defend traditional values against globalization. The European Court of Human Rights is increasingly divorced from reality, imposing its position on countries and forcing people to defend themselves. “Minority rights can be protected to the extent that the majority consents.” The country needs to unite economic and political competition with the “collectivism inherent in the Russian people.” Otherwise, the nation faces “another stagnation.”