Russian Constitutional Referendum Sets a Dangerous Precedent

 July 14.– Russia’s latest referendum to reform the country’s constitution and allow President Vladimir Putin to run in 2024 highlighted how little the Kremlin cares about legitimate and democratic processes. Putin, following the annexation of Crimea in 2014, resented the effect of US sanctions placed on the Russian economy, leading him to push an increasingly authoritarian rhetoric.

He thinks that the United States abused its power on multiple occasions, forcing states like Russia to counter its foreign policy. Doing so requires effective leadership in Moscow, and Putin believes that his presence in the Kremlin remains vital for Russia’s future. Unfortunately, as the most recent referendum highlights, Putin’s alternative system to the US-led order exploits its citizens to maintain an illegitimate regime in power.

The referendum will expand executive power considerably, and its resounding passage came only through manipulating voters with a flawed ballot structure and alleged voter fraud on an unprecedented scale.

Extending and Expanding Executive Power

Following a historic referendum to amend the Russian constitution and grant new powers to the executive, Putin could potentially remain in office until 2036. On July 1, the Russian Central Election Commission announced a 78% vote in favor of constitutional reforms, five hours before polls closed. The vote nullified Putin’s previous terms as president, allowing him to run for two more consecutive terms. Putin claimed that allowing him to stay in power increases the Kremlin’s efficacy because, without him, the government would prioritize finding his successor instead of performing its duties ...

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