Liberal or Authoritarian? How would you evaluate the 1993 Russian constitution? Draw on the constitution to illustrate your answer.

Essay by gringotsgoblinUniversity, Master'sB-, March 2004

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Liberal:[adj.] Tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition or;

[n] A person who favours a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties.

Authoritarian:[adj.] Characterized by or favouring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom: an authoritarian regime, or;

[adj.] Of, relating to, or expecting unquestioning obedience.

To understand the fabric of the Russian constitution approved in December 1993, it is important to appreciate the political turmoil that coincided with its drafting and endorsement. During the early 1990s there was a concerted effort amongst the Soviet regime to reform the 1978 Russian constitution. Days after the creation of the RSFSR a Constitutional Commission was established to this end, although its first draft which advocated the inviolable rights of the individual and other 'revolutionary' concepts was deemed to be 'anti-soviet'. The fall of the Communist regime under Gorbachev in 1991, led to the discarding of the 1978 constitution entirely and the end of 'evolutionary' reform.

From then until late December 1993 and even beyond, the issue of the new constitution was one of the foremost political concerns. The former autonomous republics argued that early drafts ignored their sovereign status while other regions believed it gave too much status to the republics. At the same time the legislature (CPD) was locked in a fight with the then president, Boris Yeltsin, over the respective powers given to the legislature and the executive in the constitution. This deadlock eventually resulted in Yeltsin dissolving the CPD on 21st September 1993, which directly led to the shelling of the CPD in the White House when they refused to be dismissed.

Following all the political unrest a referendum on the constitution was held in December of 1993 in an attempt to provide a popular mandate for the...