Yabloko, ALDE Party member in Russia, has announced it will launch a public process to create an alternative set of amendments to the Russian Constitution which it will develop with renowned experts and members of the society and submit them to a public vote.
The announcement comes in response to the annual state-of-the-nation speech, this year held on Wednesday 15 January, of Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he unveiled a series of proposed amendments to the Russian Constitution which are being interpreted as moves to extend his time in power beyond 2024. The Yabloko proposal contrasts to the plans of Vladimir Putin for his amendments as Yabloko insists they be put to citizens in a referendum.
Responding, Grigory Yavlinsky, the founder of Yabloko and Chair of its Political Committee, said: “In the 21st century, Russia is ruled by a backward and ineffective authoritarian system, a system that has no respect for people, no vision for the future, and no moral compass. Putin is proposing to not only maintain this system but to make it even more authoritarian and even more closed.”
“The most important political task for Yabloko is to create a space for their political creativity, create an opportunity for all of them – both supporters of the Yabloko party and people who are completely non-partisan – to express their opinion and their will,” he wrote.
“Yabloko will demand a referendum in which citizens can declare which amendments to the Constitution they support: amendments by the civil society or amendments by Vladimir Putin and his entourage. It is obvious to us that the foundations of the constitutional system of Russia today need protection from encroachments. We believe that our common civic and political responsibility is to offer an alternative to life-long personal rule and bring this alternative to the judgement of the people of Russia – the only legitimate source of power in our country.”
Writing in the Washington Post, Vladimir Kara-Murza has described the changes as a “constitutional coup d’état”.
Separately but shortly after Putin’s speech to Parliament, three MPs of the ruling United Russia party submitted an amendment that, if adopted, would have directly targeted and ensured the shut-down of the Yabloko party. The amendments to the law on political parties to the lower house of the Russian parliament sought to close down the Yabloko party for "diminishing the authority of the state in the international arena".
The bill was submitted to the State Duma in the evening of 16 January, but was withdrawn already in the afternoon of 17 January.
Yabloko continues to be a member of the global liberal family and is a full member of the ALDE Party and Liberal International.