Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
I am glad to welcome you and congratulate all those present on Russian Constitution Day.
As we mark this holiday we invariably focus on the underpinnings of the country’s main legal document. It is above all the democratic principles of the organisation of our state, and the political and economic freedoms of Russian citizens.
But the main idea of the Constitution is that the state must serve society and the people. It must work for the good and success of each of its citizens.
You know that adopting the Constitution was a hard slog. In fact, we covered the road towards a new democratic state. For more than ten years we have used the words to which we have become accustomed, “the new Russia”. But come to think of it, we are talking about a country with a thousand year history, a country which has seen many periods when the state wielded unlimited power, but also periods when it was ineffective and weak. We are talking about a country whose people have suffered so much that they have deserved democracy and the freedom of the individual. Much of the credit for the existence of the new Russia goes to the drafters of the Constitution, the main law of the land.
Back then, in 1993, the Constitution established clear-cut rules for all the branches of government. The framework of constitutional behaviour has been an instrument for reconciling diverse political interests. As a result it has spared us a repeat of further experiments on society.
The Constitution has cemented the Federation. It opened a new phase in the relations between the levels of government. Today, drawing on our own experience, we are completing the important work of delimiting government powers. On that basis we are strengthening local government and bodies of power in the regions of the Russian Federation, including such sensitive ones as Chechnya.
I have been approached by the Electoral Commission of the Chechen Republic, who asked me to issue a decree on the procedure for holding a constitutional referendum. Today, in accordance with Article 11 of the Federal Law on the Main Guarantees of Electoral Rights, I have signed the Decree on the Procedure for Holding a Referendum in Chechnya.
The Russian Constitution has greatly extended the horizons of human freedoms and rights in Russia. But, unfortunately, people still frequently face arbitrary actions, lawlessness and callousness. They face bureaucratic incompetence.
It is the duty of all those who are vested with power and authority to act for the good of the people, which means strictly adhering to the spirit and letter of the Main Law of our country, the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
I propose a toast:
To the Constitution of our country!
To the prosperity and happiness of Russian citizens!
To the might and dignity of our great Homeland!