CHEREPOVETS, February 4. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not propose amendments to the Russian constitution to prolong his stay in power, he said during a meeting with members of the public in Russia’s Cherepovets.
"Essentially, our Constitution says that municipalities are not directly connected to the state. There should be a united system of power, so that the upper levels of power can be responsible for what is happening at lower levels and so that those who work in municipal bodies would be connected to the country and its interests. The same should take place in many other areas, and this is why I proposed it, and not to extend my mandate," he said.
Russian constitutional amendments set out in the State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly are dictated by life, Putin said.
"The amendments that a proposed are simply dictated by life, I believe. Colleagues here were asking questions about the spheres they specialize in and where they feel they can make it better. The same is with the amendments that I proposed. It is just that over the course of my term in the office of president and prime minister, it became evident to me that certain things are not working as they should," he said.
The discussion on the constitutional amendments
Putin noted that the wider the discussion on the constitutional amendments is, the more national the Russian Constitution would become.
"We would like to avoid getting bogged down in the amendments or anything else, that’s for sure," Putin said. "But the fact that discussion is unfolding with such a wide front, this brings me joy, actually, because the more people get involved in this process, the more popular the Constitution and our amendments would become."
According to the president, people would feel involved thanks to this wide discussion.
"[People] would feel like they co-authored this document. But I proposed the nationwide vote exactly so that even those who don’t take part in this discussion, could participate in the final decision," the president added.
Nationwide public vote
The upcoming nationwide vote in Russia will be the decisive factor for making a final decision on the constitutional amendments, Putin said.
"In my opinion, only a nationwide vote and, in fact, a plebiscite and the will of the people must be the ultimate factor in making a decision on the amendments to the Russian Constitution," Putin said.
Putin emphasized that the upcoming vote is the highest form of democracy, "a plebiscite". "It is actually the expression of citizens’ will. I proposed that so that these amendments are approved or not approved in the highest manifestation of will. If they are approved, no one will be able to say that something is wrong here," he said.
On January 23, the Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) passed the first reading of a bill on constitutional amendments, submitted by President Vladimir Putin. The document particularly expands the authority of the State Duma and the Federation Council (the upper house of parliament), ensures the supremacy of the Constitution within Russia’s legal system and stipulates a nationwide vote on the amendments. According to State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, the second reading of the bill initially scheduled for February 11 was rescheduled to late February-early March in light of many proposed amendments coming in.