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FEW RUSSIANS THINK THAT THE CONSTITUTION IS PLAYING ANY IMPORTANT PART

Every third Russian refuses to view the Constitution as a major factor in the life of the country.


Levada-Center sociologists discovered that only every fifth Russian believes that the Constitution guarantees his or her rights and freedoms. Every third Russian on the other hand does not think that the Constitution is playing any significant part in the life of the country because few "mind" it.

The Levada-Center conducted the opinion poll on November 14-17. (Statistical error is estimated at under 3%.) Asked fifteen years ago if the Constitution guaranteed their rights and freedoms, 12% respondents answered that it did. Thirty-one percent answered the same question in a similar manner in 2007 – apparently because of the Duma election and onset of the presidential campaign. This November, however, the number of the Russians convinced that the Constitution was playing so important a role went down to 22%. Nine percent in the meantime failed to come up with any coherent answer when asked for their opinion of the Constitution.

“The Constitution plays no significant part in the life of the country because too few actually mind it.” Back in 1997, 45% Russians accepted validity of this premise. Last month, they numbered only 28%.

“It’s actually typical of Russia where the Constitution is regarded as an insignificant attribute. It is thought that the Czar (general secretary or president) is above the Constitution and therefore free to treat it any way he sees fit,” Stanislav Belkovsky of the National Strategy Institute said.

“The Constitution is like the Bible. Had it been abided by, life would have been different,” to quote Mikhail Barschevsky who represents the government in courts. Barschevsky said the powers-that-be themselves were not always consistent with regard to the Constitution. “President Dmitry Medvedev keeps saying that the Constitution must be observed while some lawmakers, lobbyists of security structures as they are, suggest encroachment on the powers of the jury in deliberation over some criminal cases. That it will encroach on the power by the people goes without saying,” Barschevsky said.

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