Russia’s basic law/ Ãëàâíàÿ / Russkiy Mir Foundation / Publications / Russia’s basic law
Russia’s basic law
Russia Day is celebrated on June 12. 30 years have passed since the signing of the Declaration on State Sovereignty of the RSFSR. This date is especially symbolic on the eve of the constitutional vote. After all, amendments to the Basic Law are not only about social guarantees, the protection of labor rights and the distribution of powers between branches of government. They are also about Russia - about its national interests and values.
Photo credit: zaryadyepark.ru
On June 12, 1990, the first Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR adopted the Declaration on State Sovereignty; later, a holiday was established in honor of this event. The document proclaimed the sovereignty of the RSFSR and affirmed the priority of the Constitution and laws of the RSFSR over legislative acts of the USSR. A year and a half later, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) was renamed into the Russian Federation (Russia). In 1993, the new country adopted a new Constitution.
“I was a member of the constitutional meeting and I remember how they wrote the Constitution in 1993,” says Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the State Duma Committee on Education and Science. – Back then, the debate was not about our country, but about how to make this or that article look like the Constitution of France, America, Germany. They argued about the nuances, about legal issues, but did not think a lot about Russia. Yes, of course, the word “Russia” is mentioned there, but in general the Constitution, as a document protecting national interests, was clearly weak.
In 1993, the Basic Law laid down the basic, universal principles of the state structure, while the 2020 amendments bring a whole set of values - this is the continuity of history, the status of the Russian language as the language of a nation-forming nation, the protection of historical truth, and the special status of national culture. Such concepts as “patriotism”, “respect for elders”, “respect for the person of work” and other will appear there.
“These articles describe how we present the structure of our society, what we consider to be right, fair, what our national idea and goal is,” says Konstantin Kostin, head of the Civil Society Development Fund. - And one should not be shy about it. And the attacks claiming that these obvious values should not be prescribed in the Constitution seem rather hypocritical. And then these same people ask the question: what is our national idea and what are the goals of the state?
Let’s consider a concrete example. “Everyone is obliged to take care of preserving historical and cultural heritage, to preserve historical and cultural monuments” - this is all that is said in the current version of the Constitution. But in the updated one we have the following: "Culture in the Russian Federation is a unique heritage of its multinational people ... supported and protected by the state." This is the so-called Kalyagin-Matsuev-Piotrovsky amendment. Another short story: the state protects the cultural identity of all peoples and ethnic communities.
“A nation is first of all a language, culture, heroes and memory of all this, says Vyacheslav Nikonov. - Therefore, the consolidation of traditional values and our culture in constitutional norms is indeed a reliable foundation for the creation of the Russian nation."
It is sounds very official, but again, for the first time, the coherence of our history is prescribed at the level of the Basic Law. It all began with the words in the 1990 Declaration: Russia "is a sovereign state created by the peoples historically united in it." In the Constitution, adopted in 1993, a similar idea is expressed only in the preamble. Now, the amendment has entered the text of the Constitution itself and sounds proudly: “Russia is the legal successor of the USSR, while recognizing the continuity in the development of the entire Russian state, united by a thousand-year history.”
It is worth recalling that the initiator of the amendment was director Karen Shakhnazarov. “We rejected our history twice in this century: after 1917, the Russian Empire, and then in the 90s, the Soviet history were pushed back. It seems to me that it would be right to link our entire history into something single,” he suggested in February at a meeting of the president with members of the working group on preparing amendments to the Constitution.
The new norm on the protection of the rights of compatriots abroad follows the same logic. They are guaranteed support in "preserving the all-Russian cultural identity" at the level of the Constitution. As writer Zakhar Prilepin noted at a meeting with the president, after the collapse of the USSR, millions of people found themselves outside of Russia at once: it was not their choice, “and to pretend that we forgot about them is not entirely correct.”
“At the moment, no less people speak Russian outside our country than in Russia itself, says Vyacheslav Nikonov. - Many compatriots living abroad are citizens of the Russian Federation. Many are not, but they all represent the great Russian world, which was split after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the social camp. They have rights that must also be protected. There are countries where the Russian language is at risk. And the state should provide an opportunity to get education in their native language for those who want it."
Another example is the “land issue”. It was delivered in 1990: the Yeltsin declaration of sovereignty stated that “the territory of the RSFSR cannot be changed without the will of the people expressed by referendum.” The 2020 amendments introduce, as Vladimir Mashkov puts it, a “reinforced concrete” ban on the alienation of part of the territory from Russia (with the exception of demarcation of borders). Even "calls for such action are not allowed."
In addition, the amendments fix the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the country. They also grant the priority of the Constitution over international law in the event of a conflict of norms. The role of Russia in the world is emphasized: "The Russian Federation is taking measures to maintain and strengthen international peace and security." “We don’t want to span a foreign land, but we won’t give up ours”- this idea appeared in the Constitution,” said Nikonov.
“The Constitution is a document that has been adopted for a fairly long time and reflects the basic value parameters of society, says Konstantin Kostin. - Let's not forget - we have a very young democracy. Russia has existed for more than a thousand years, but the modern statehood is only going to turn 30. And we are approaching the natural period of generational change. The post-Soviet generation - those who were born and began active work in the USSR - gradually passes the baton to those who were born in new Russia and for the next several decades will determine what the country will be. In this sense, it is extremely important to choose and write down the values that we take with us into the future, because they define us as a society and a country."
Knights and bishops move towards each other 23.07.2020The World Chess Day is celebrated annually on July 20. Today it brings together amateurs and professionals of the ancient game, even if over a virtual board only. This day has been marked by series of international online-tournaments opened in Russia and abroad. Russian compatriots are going to launch the Chess Friendship Cup today.
Yul Brynner: the King of Hollywood 15.07.2020The Hollywood has seen a lot of celebrities with Russian names – Kirk Douglas, a Hollywood legend and star of Spartacus, was born as Issur Danielovitch, and Oscar-winning Helen Mirren is delighted to be called Elena Vasilievna. The one might think that Yul Brynner, a star of The King and I, spent his whole life trying to forget that he had been born in Vladivostok as Yuliy Borisovich Briner, though, according to the eyewitnesses, he spoke fluent Russian until his dying day.
Master Russian on lockdown 13.07.2020Russian language does not have days off. It is not afraid of pandemics. And sometimes it benefits from self-isolation of those who seek to master it. Having worked online for months, Russian language courses around the world are setting to actively accepts students into offline groups. The Russkiy Mir contacted teachers from different countries and found out that the lockdown and experience in e-teaching opened up new opportunities for specialists in Russian philology. Some of them conceived the idea to develop a system of electronic textbooks and globalize the programs; others initiated active engagement of lecturers and guests from all over the world for their online classes, and also mastered advanced training for teachers in virtual environment.
Key words to understand the Battle of Chesma 11.07.2020Starting from Peter the Great days, Russian glossary of nautical terms was compiled based on Dutch terms. Furthermore, it experienced a significant impact from English, German and Italian terminology. Events associated with naval glory of Russia can be reconstructed through interpretation of those inherent terms. The Battle of Chesma is one of such events.