Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to congratulate you on the Russian Constitution Day. We mark it as a national holiday every year. We do so not only out of respect for the fundamental legal document of our nation, but above all, out of respect for our choice, for ourselves. Back then, in 1993, we voted for the rule-of-law, democracy and freedom. We voted against the breakup of the Federation, against a weak state and ineffective economy.
In fact, on December 12, 1993 we chose the future for Russia. Everything we have achieved since then has been done on the basis of the Constitution and in full accordance with its letter and spirit. Deviations from it inevitably landed us in an impasse and weakened the country and the state. Therefore changing the main provisions of the Constitution would be tantamount to revising the foundations of the state, a revision of its norms prompted by political expediency, it is sure to lead to a crisis of power and to loosen up the bodies of power and provoke dangerous conflicts within the state.
In this connection I would like to stress again that introducing amendments that would bring fundamental changes to the new constitution is not on the agenda in our country. Likewise, dismantling basic values and renouncing democratic gains is not an option.
I would like to go back to what I have said and to repeat that it fully applies to the issue of the presidential term. No changes will be introduced in the constitution to suit the incumbent president.
Compliance with the constitutional principles and norms greatly increased the rule of law in the country, paved the way for the development of civil society, gave an impetus to constitutional justice and the creation of a new court system and strengthened the Federation.
The latest steps in state development – the fight against bureaucracy in public life and the economy – also follow the logic of the Constitution. And yet vitally important work to delimit the powers between the centre and the regions of the Russian Federation has yet to be completed. Some key issues under joint jurisdiction have not been resolved. And I would like to draw the attention of the federal and regional governments to the fact that these problems are directly relevant to the integrity of the state and the equal rights of all the citizens of the Russian Federation.
The fact that the absence of a law is often replaced with the sometimes arbitrary decisions of individual officials cannot be tolerated. And nor can the fact that the legislation and regulations passed by the Russian regions, municipalities and agencies sometimes violate the political, social and property rights of citizens.
Today, on the anniversary of the Constitution, I would like to address those whose immediate job is to ensure compliance with the constitution. These are of course the community of judges, the members of the law enforcement agencies and all the bodies of power and administration. It is incumbent upon you to protect the rights and duties of citizens, to protect their dignity, which the state is obliged to protect under the Constitution. Let us do this more effectively. People’s confidence in the effectiveness of government and mutual respect between the state and the citizens depend on your actions.
The fact that in times of the most difficult crises – and we remember these times – the authorities did not yield to the temptation to adjust the Constitution for themselves ultimately proved to be good both for the authorities and for the state. Our Constitution is neither a whip nor a carrot and it will never again be an ideological bogeyman or a political toy in anyone’s hands. The Constitution is the main law of the land and as long as that law is in force no experiments with the state and its people will be allowed.
To learn to live according to the Constitution is the highest school of democracy, a school we are all obliged to go through.
I give you a toast to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, to the well-being and prosperity of great Russia, to the citizens of Russia.