On the government site devoted to the new constitution which is subject to consultation in Russia from June 25 to July 1, there is much to talk about, but only a very knowledgeable reader will understand that the reform will allow the current president to stand for two new terms after 2024.
→ ANALYSIS. Vladimir Putin changes the Constitution and his government. Why ?
The information is drowned in the middle of the so-called “conservative” or nationalist amendments which will be inscribed black and white in the texts: the ” faith in God “, marriage as a heterosexual institution, the protection of “Historical truth”, that of Russian culture and Russian identity, the link with the USSR, plus some social measures including the indexation of pensions to inflation.
Sometimes contradictory values
These principles are at the heart of the value system that Vladimir Putin has wielded since the beginning of the 2010s, in order to cement the population around a common narrative. “These values are artificial and cconstitute an ideology which is a mixture of stereotypes of Soviet propaganda and patriotic banalities, Judge Andrei Kolesnikov, political scientist at the Carnegie Center in Moscow. As if someone had clumsily merged the communist triad “Lenin, Party, Komsomol”, with the famous triad of Count Sergei Ouvarov “Orthodoxy, autocracy, nationality” under the Czar of the XIXe century Nicolas I. “
This combination of sometimes contradictory values - to maintain the link with the USSR while inscribing faith in God in the constitution – took on importance after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the rise of the West. “The Poutinian state was first built without ideology, recalls Anna Colin Lebedev, lecturer at Paris Nanterre University. The constitutional amendments aim to display the difference and the specificity of Russia vis-à-vis the West, within the framework of their geopolitical rivalry. “
The champion of traditional values
By inscribing a certain number of references to the so-called traditional and mythified values of eternal Russia, Vladimir Putin is doing a double blow. On the one hand, it strengthens the interest of voters for a reform that strengthens presidential power, at a time when its popularity rating is crumbling. On the other hand, he cultivates his image as the last defender of European “traditions” that would be threatened by globalization, LGBT “propaganda” and immigration, a theme dear to the European far right and its parties.
By building a narrative that aims to be coherent around faith, marriage and the family, the Kremlin relegates to the background the growing demand for more social justice, evoked by some symbolic amendments such as the need for the state to take care of children. What is the effect of this speech to citizens? “Comments against gay marriage are widely shared in Russia, recalls Tatiana Kastoueva-Jean, researcher at the French Institute for Strategic Relations. But Russian society is not really conservative ”, adds the author of Putin’s Russia in 100 questions (1).
Behind the display of values, the behavior of Russian families is not far from that of Europeans. If the country has one of the highest marriage rates in the world, it is also a champion of divorces (1 in 2). Another indicator: citizens declare themselves to be overwhelmingly Orthodox (70%), but less than 4% practice.
Besides, a third of those who declare themselves Orthodox say at the same time … not to believe in God. And many refuse to see the Orthodox Church intrude into their private lives, whether on the question of abortion, very widespread since the Soviet era, or the use of surrogate mothers, a legalized practice.