Constitutional Change a Turning Point in Russia’s History and Quite Possibly Not in the Direction Moscow Wants, Garifullin Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 14, 2010)

Most residents of the Russian Federation are at present indifferent as far as the constitutional amendments are concerned either because they have been reduced from the status of citizens to mere populace or because no one has explained why these changes are needed or what they will mean, Ilnar Garifullin says.

But many in the intelligentsia, especially outside of Moscow in the non-Russian republics and those the regime can’t effectively threaten with loss of income or status recognize that this is “a turning point” in the country’s history, the Tatar commentator for IdelReal says (

The amendments that are set to be approved are not minor matters as some imagine but rather fundamental changes in the constitution and thus fundamental changes in the country. The most thoughtful intellectuals understand this, and those who feel they can are expressing their opposition.

That recognition has been on display in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, with those who are under pressure to back the Kremlin supporting Moscow’s plans through clenched teeth and those who feel they can ignore any pressure the Russian regime places on them speaking openly against the constitutional changes.

Thus, at the Tatarstan State Council (, former president Mintimir Shaymiyev objected cautiously while two free intellectuals voiced their objections openly as did the mufti of Tatarstan and the World Forum of Tatar Youth ( and

The same pattern holds in Bashkortostan. There officials back Putin as do “marionette” organizations like the Kurultay, but independent groups like the embattled Bashkort organization have called for a boycott, thus saving the honor of their republic even at the potential cost of their loss of official status (

According to Garifullin, “these changes in the Constitution will start a chain of processes which our descendants will study as turning points in our difficult history. And thus it is very important to observe and record all that is happening now. Out of this mosaic will forma picture of who stood for what in this life and who deserves respect in the future.”

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