Today Russia is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Constitution. It is a good occasion to look back and to think of its contribution to the establishment of the new Russian state and of its place in the modern life of the country.
First attempts by Russian statesmen to develop constitutional projects date back to the beginning of the 19th century ; however, the first Constitution was only adopted after the October revolution, in 1918. Overall, the Soviet period state saw the adoption of four consecutive Constitutions in 1918, 1924, 1937 and 1977. In the end of the 20th century, the emergence of a new state which succeeded the dissolved Soviet Union and proclaimed its commitment to democracy, human rights and market economy required a new fundamental law that would secure its basis. On 12th December 1993, the Constitution of the Russian Federation drafted by the ad hoc Constitutional Assembly was adopted by the universal vote.
Unlike the previous Constitutions, the new one not only established strong legal pillars of the state, but also provided for the freedom necessary for a dynamic development of the country. It embodied the core values defining the image of the new Russian state combining novelty with continuity : human rights and freedoms ; law supremacy, justice and equality ; a democratic, parliamentary, federative and socially oriented state ; market economy based on the rule of law. The Constitution was adopted during the period when the Russian Federation had to build an open and democratic society living in a market economy. This task required an intensive participation of the country in all global processes. That is why the 1993 Constitution included the provisions necessary to enable the integration of Russia into the open world on the one hand, and to secure its sovereignty and national interests against any possibility of being shadowed by foreign interests on the other.
The 1993 Constitution was the first one to establish the real separation of powers and to institute a full-fledged legislative assembly able to discuss and create laws while representing the interests of various strata of the society.
An important aspect of the Constitution is the definition of the relationship between the state and its citizens. By declaring the utter importance of the human being, its rights and freedoms, the Constitution binds the state to guarantee and protect human rights, and at the same time establishes that the limits of freedom of any given individual are determined by the freedom of others.
Nowadays, 20 years after its adoption, the 1993 Constitution still contains all the necessary to continue the construction of a political, economic and social integrity of the Russian state in accordance with the values of democracy, rule of law and respect of the human rights. While there are politicians who call for the reconsideration of some principles forming the basis of the existing Constitution, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin repeatedly stated that he, as the guarantor of the Constitution, would safeguard the Fundamental Law against any groundless modification. The Constitution has more than once proved its strength, helped our society to overcome difficulties and to move along the way of a steady development. And its potential is far from being exhausted.