Colleagues and friends,
Members of the Constitutional Court of Russia,
The 12th of December is a special date in the life of our nation. Exactly ten years ago, on this day, the Constitution of the country was passed. The first democratic Constitution in the history of Russia.
Then, in 1993, it strengthened historical events that were true turning points. It confirmed the choice of the people of Russia. The choice of freedom and real democracy, which today still determines the development of our nation. This development is long-term.
This development is irreversible.
Was passing the Constitution enough to ensure that cardinal changes became unavoidable? Of course not.
Was passing it a necessary condition? The answer to this question is undoubtedly yes.
It could not have been otherwise in a country that was moving swiftly towards a new life. It was moving towards fundamental changes in the state system and the political regime. From a virtually unitary state, a real federation was formed. And instead of harsh restriction of agreement of opinions, it took on the right of open political competition and dialogue. The right of civil society.
This is what the Constitution acknowledged to be the highest value, not ephemeral ideological dogmas and ideas, but human rights. It put democratic freedoms and the personal interests of the country’s citizens in first place. It gave them the chance to reveal their practical initiative, and their creative force to the full degree.
I wish to make this particularly clear: according to the Constitution it is human rights and freedoms that determine the meaning, contents and use of laws. They determine the activity of bodies of power.
And finally, it is this Constitution that gave Russia the opportunity to join the circle of developed world democracies. It showed itself to be a reliable partner prepared for cooperation. And at the same time, it let itself be respected and considered as a full member of the international community of nations.
Today, we can no longer imagine life without free elections, without a whole spectrum of parties, political movements and associations, without the advantages of the market and openness to the world. Without the necessary attributes of democracy, which have confirmed themselves to be the norm of our juridical life, of our juridical language, and as the human norm of life.
But it must not be forgotten that the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the Russian Federation stands firmly behind this. There is a clear political will and guarantees of juridical tools.
The stability of the Constitution determines the stable work of tools of state power. It ensures systematic elections to federal bodies, and elections to regional bodies of administration in the provinces. And just several days ago, for the fourth time, a new State Duma was elected on the 10th anniversary of the Constitution.
But many of you, studying the extensive list of the voting ballot, probably remembered that in the past society was only given one choice, essentially a choice without any choice at all.
Since then, we have traveled along a difficult path together, and overcome many problems. But no we can already pose and solve tasks that are fundamentally different than in the past. Tasks of another level and scale. Tasks that involve an increase in quality of the economy and improvement of the well-being of citizens of our country.
There can be no end to democratic changes, just as one cannot put an end to a country’s movement ahead and people’s aspiration to progress.
And today, we need the ten years’ experience of applying the Consitution both to solve internal tasks, and for effective answers to new challenges of the modern world.
I am certain that we should learn the legal culture ourselves and teach it to our children. It is our obligation to have consistent and effective legislation. We must ensure that the axiom of our lives is that the law is the same for everyone, regardless of rank or person.
Strictly following the Constitution is the basis of successful development of the state and civil agreement in society. The resources of the Constitution are far from exhausted. And this should be remembered well by everyone who tries to speculate on the topic of possible amendments to the Basic Law.
Our duty is to treat the Constitution with care. To respect it, just as we respect our country, our history, and our achievements.