Cover Osteuropa 6/2020

In Osteuropa 6/2020

Russia’s constitution in poor health
The end of an illusion. A retrospective

Margareta Mommsen

Deutsche Fassung


The “Putin constitution” of 2020 is a watershed. It marks the end of a period that began with perestroika, included the upheaval of the communist system and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and which in 1993 led to the approval of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. According to this constitution Russia was a democracy and a state governed by the rule of law that guaranteed human and basic rights. The reality was different. The Soviet legacy, and errors made during the Yeltsin era, made it harder to establish a functioning democracy. After Putin became President, the discrepancy between constitutional norms and the constitutional reality widened. Yet for two decades, the political leadership upheld the illusion of liberal constitutionalism. This has now been brought to an end. The new constitution reinforces institutional authoritarianism and presidential absolutism. The legacy of 1993 has been destroyed.

(Osteuropa 6/2020, pp. 53–82)