Proposals for the Russian Constitution in the social sphere
State support for volunteers, accessible environment, assistance to human rights activists: what is proposed to be included in the Constitution of the Russian Federation
Vladimir Putin once again met with the group working on preparing amendments to the country’s constitution.
The majority of the proposed changes were either met with approval by the President or agreement and a neatly worded “let’s consider that”.
Putin supported provisions for the protection of children being reflected in the Constitution. Olga Batalina, a deputy in the State Duma, suggested that they needed reinforcing. She also suggested that article 67 of the Constitution should give priority to family education.
President of the Foundation ‘Volunteers helping child orphans’, Elena Alshanskaya, asked the President to spend more time considering the exact wording: “It (the wording – ASI) is still very fresh and it is fundamental that it is thoroughly and properly worked through. I would have suggested this, for example: “The state protects the rights to life, healthcare, development and dignity of children. It creates conditions for their spiritual, moral and intellectual development. It protects the child’s rights to life and education as part of a family” so that protection (for children – ASI) would be sufficiently reflected in the Constitution. Wording that is sufficient, legally informed and that fully reflects our modern-day policy on families, policy which above all aims to protect children.”
Health care and social security
Leonid Roshal, President of the National Medical Chamber, suggested some immediate alterations to the healthcare segment on three different levels: “Firstly, to establish a single legal basis for institutions providing medical aid under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. Secondly, the standardisation of healthcare amongst entities under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, including the creation of necessary conditions for a healthy lifestyle and the provision of readily available and high-quality medical care. Thirdly and finally local self-government, local self-government bodies under the jurisdiction of Federal law must make medical care available”
The head of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, Lidia Mikheyeva, emphasised the importance of strengthening regulation around social safeguards, above all pensions, in the Constitution: “In the Russian Federation, a pension index is produced no more than once a year, in accordance with Federal law”
As Oleg Smolin, a deputy in the State Duma, pointed out, in the Constitution it is essential to reinforce the rights of people with disabilities to social integration. He proposed the following wording: “In the Russian Federation, there is a system for social protection of disabled people. It provides integration with society and equal opportunities with other citizens. An accessible environment will be created”
Galina Khovanskaya, also a deputy in the State Duma, added: we need to ensure that at all levels, provisions that enable the state to cancel its social obligation to its citizens are prohibited.
Governance for volunteers and assistance for human rights defenders
Deputy in the State Duma, Andrei Makarov, suggested that the government should introduce measures, which would be added to Article 114 in the Constitution, to support the volunteering movement. He also made reference to “the creation of conditions for developing a system for environmental education” and a responsible relationship towards animals.
The Commissioner for human rightsin the Sverdlovsk region, Tatyana Merzlyakova, is seeking to expand the wording on providing assistance to NGOs and volunteers to include “assistance to those developing civil society”. Merzlyakova had in fact already made this suggestion, but so far it has not been considered. In response to the president’s question as to why the current reference to NGOs and the volunteer movement was too narrow, Merzlyakova listed the “human rights movement, advocacy, the Union of Journalists etc. (others were mentioned that are not listed here – ASI).”
Other suggestions included amendments to protections for the country’s integrity and sovereignty, social insurance for working people and further proposals. According to Talia Khabriyeva, a lawyer and academic at the Russian Academy of Sciences, if all the proposals are taken up, around 25 laws and codes that shape the system will have to be changed.