Putin proposes conservative values for constitution
Critics see the proposals as an attempt by Putin to stay in power after his presidential term ends in 2024.
The constitutional reform bill was passed by the lower house, the State Duma, in January. This week’s amendments were introduced ahead of a second reading next week.
His other constitutional amendments could enable him to stay in charge in another role, such as chairman of the State Council or parliament.
He could also remain as prime minister with expanded powers or a lifetime senator.
Putin and the task force he set up submitted the new amendments. They include a clause to ensure marriage can only be between a man and woman and the line that Russia “cherishes the memory of ancestors who have passed on their ideals and faith in God”, according to State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.
Putin says he is not homophobic while adding that homosexuality and gender fluidity are incompatible with traditional Russian values.
A 2013 law labelled the “public promotion of homosexuality” a crime. Only heterosexual couples can adopt children.
Homosexuality was criminalised until 1993 and labelled a mental illness until 1999.
The current constitution was drafted in 1993 under then-president Boris Yeltsin, who was embracing democracy and capitalism.
The proposed amendments have been seen as a concession to Putin’s conservative supporters.
The reference to “God” in the constitution was suggested by a conservative parliamentarian and backed by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Russia is still formally a secular state.
Vladimir Mashkov, an actor-director involved in drafting the new constitution, said a territorial amendment would strengthen Russia’s grip on Crimea, which was seized from Ukraine in 2014, and the Kuril Islands, which were taken from Japan at the end of the Second World War.
Putin has proposed a reference to “historical truth [protecting] the great achievement of the people in their defence of the Fatherland”.
The veteran president claims there are foreign attempts to diminish the Soviet suffering and sacrifice during the Second World War.
A referendum on constitutional amendments is scheduled for April 22 and the Constitutional Court must sign them off.
Political observer Grigory Golosov said the amendments were “political”. “The constitution we have indicates that the state should be free of ideology. So I think these changes are inappropriate,” he said.
A Russian marriage. Picture credit: Wikimedia