On January 15, during an annual address to a joint session of both houses of parliament, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the start of a process of constitutional reforms (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, January 16, 20), which officially concluded with a national referendum, held on June 25-July 1. The procedure of constitutional change turned out to be lengthier and more precarious than the Kremlin originally planned. The State Duma (lower house of Parliament) and the Federation Council (upper house) duly rubber-stamped the constitutional amendments, and the legislatures of all 85 subjects (this number includes Crimea and Sevastopol city, illegally annexed in 2014) of the Russian Federation ratified them. The Constitutional Court took less than two days to compose a lengthy legal document vetting all the amendments as fully legal and democratic “because [they] will reflect the will of the people” (see EDM, March 19).
Vladimir Putin: Russia’s eternal leader
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