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Russia to mark Constitution Day

December 12, 2011, 4:27 UTC+3

More than ten years Constitution Day was celebrated as the public holiday, but since 2005 this date is not the public holiday any longer

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MOSCOW, December 12 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia will mark Constitution Day on Monday. The Russian fundamental law was approved 18 years ago and laid down the foundations of the state system, outlined the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens, the powers and functions of authorities.

In 2011 Russia marks Constitution Day amid the already launched presidential election campaign. The fifth presidential elections will be held on March 4, 2012 after the Constitution of the Russian Federation was enacted in 1993. Already sixth State Duma was elected on December 4.

At the parliamentary elections the United Russia Party lost the constitutional majority and will have only 238 seats out of 450 seats (the ruling party had 315 seats in the fifth State Duma). Although the party retained the absolute majority that enables it to approve all necessary laws and resolutions, the opposition decided that the ruling party missed the target, suspecting that the United Russia election result was achieved with the use of the notorious administrative resource.

The rallies for fair elections are held in all Russian cities already for a week. The most massive protest action was held in Moscow on December 10. The Moscow police reported that no less than 25,000 people were participating in the rally. The protesters have put forward a resolution with the demands to cancel the election results, dismiss Chairman of the Central Elections Commission (CEC) Vladimir Churov and investigate all cases of violations and falsifications.

Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he is satisfied with the way the Saturday rallies were held, though he does not agree with their slogans. “Under the Constitution Russian citizens have the freedom of speech and the freedom of assemblies,” the president said in his Facebook blog. Medvedev noted that “people can express their position.” “It is good that all passed under the law,” he added, noting that he gave the instructions “to investigate all reports from the polling stations over the observance of the election law.”

Earlier at a meeting with CEC Chairman Vladimir Churov the president pledged to meet with the leaders of all political parties, both parliamentary and non-parliamentary parties. He did not rule out the possibility for amendments in the election legislation. “Our democracy is just developing. It is not ideal and after each election we always introduce some amendments in the election legislation,” he noted.

As for the Constitution, most politicians and jurists are convinced that its potential is not exhausted yet. The constitutional mechanism for the protection of social, economic and political rights of citizens is not realized fully yet. The same can be said about the relations between legislative, executive and judicial authorities.

For 18 years the Russian Constitution was amended only once. Three years ago the term of the Russian president and the State Duma was increased to six and five years, respectively.

Chairman of the Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin noted repeatedly that the problem of constitutional protection of the human rights, life, safety and property of Russian citizens is “irreversible and fundamental.” All other problems “do not cost a dime,” he believes. A year ago on the eve of Constitution Day he even warned that in despair people “will begin to dream not about democracy, but about the iron dictatorship.” The concerns of the Constitutional Court chairman did not come true.

More than ten years Constitution Day was celebrated as the public holiday, but since 2005 this date is not the public holiday any longer. However, according to sociologists, two thirds of Russian citizens remember this date. Although several articles of the Constitution still sound like “the declaration of intentions,” the Constitution remains the roadmap, which allows Russia neither to step aside nor step back.

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