Recipes renewal of power: how the presidents have changed the Constitution in the countries of the former USSR

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to put to a referendum amendment to the Constitution. The change of the basic law is a popular initiative among the post-Soviet leaders who have the authority runs out. About it writes BBC.

Рецепты продления власти: как президенты меняли Конституции в странах бывшего СССР

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Russia is no exception: in 2008 the presidential term was increased to six years.

Such an extension of presidential terms — the secret to a long stay in power, many leaders of the former USSR.

However, now we are talking about strengthening Parliament at the expense of the President. Experts suggest that this can mean keeping Putin in power after 2024, but already in new quality.

As an example, remember Kazakhstan, where in the past the permanent President Nursultan Nazarbayev retains power as head of the security Council and the ruling party.

But the experience of the region shows that such scenarios can get out of control, as in Georgia and Armenia, where started a transition to a new quality leaders lost power, and even become defendants in criminal cases.

Rapidly changing the Constitution

If in the Baltic States Constitution virtually unchanged since their adoption after the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine changed the basic law is often — although adopted a new Constitution is Soviet in 1996.

The first changes initiated also the second President Leonid Kuchma. In 2000, on his initiative, a referendum was held in which the voters voted in favor of expanding the President’s powers to dissolve Parliament, and other changes. But Parliament ignored the vote, and changes to the Constitution and not made.

The form of government was changed only after the Orange revolution of 2004, when presidential powers were curtailed in favor of Parliament and government.

After winning the presidential election of Viktor Yanukovych in 2010, the country briefly returned to the previous form of government. After fleeing the fourth President in Russia of the functions of the head of state was again curtailed — the country returned to the 2004 Constitution.

Simple extension from Minsk to Ashgabat

Presidential terms are extended not only in Russia is one of the most popular leaders with the expiring term.

It is through such changes, as well as the abolition of restrictions on the number of terms, Alexander Lukashenko and Emomali Rahmon for 25 years, continuously led by Belarus and Tajikistan, respectively, and Ilham Aliyev of 16 years has headed the Azerbaijan.

In Kazakhstan, changes to the Constitution allowed President Nursultan Nazarbayev to stay in power since the collapse of the Soviet Union until 2019.

In Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov became President for life and died in this position, and if the successor of Turkmenbashi, the presidential terms were increased.

The strengthening of the Parliament — lessons from the South Caucasus

A number of former Soviet republics had already restricted the President’s powers in favor of Parliament, and in this case leaders were suspected of trying to remain in power in a new way.

In Georgia during his second term Mikheil Saakashvili initiated the transfer of key powers from President to Parliament and the government.

The opposition then accused Saakashvili of trying to save power by moving to the Prime Minister. However, the President’s party lost the election, and he soon left the country, becoming a defendant in a criminal case.

In a similar way in Armenia during the second presidential term of Serzh Sargsyan initiated a referendum on the transition to a parliamentary Republic.

Sargsyan promised that he would not try to become Prime Minister, but changed his mind shortly before the end of his powers and was elected head of government in a loyal Parliament.

This move led to mass protests and Sargsyan resigned, having in the Premiership only six days. Now a former President, a number of his relatives and associates are under investigation.