Russia's 2020 Constitutional Amendments: A Comparative Perspective

32 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2020 Last revised: 25 Feb 2022

Date Written: June 12, 2020


This article will place the 2020 amendments to the Russian Constitution in comparative perspective. Although these amendments were officially justified as strengthening the Russian state in order to tackle emerging new problems, they constitutionalise already-existing legislative trends in place over the last twenty years. They therefore do little to overcome existing problems of Russian state building. What was the reform process about then? It was intended to project the image of reform by involving the people in a staged process of constitutional change while further entrenching the power of the current political elite. The constitutional reforms therefore demonstrate the symbolic role that constitutional law can play in seeking to ensure the survival of mature or later-stage forms of authoritarian populism. This kind of ‘theatrical constitution-making’ is a broader reminder of how the expressive aspects of constitutional change can be (ab)used by established authoritarian regimes.

Keywords: constitutional law, comparative law, Russia

JEL Classification: K39

Suggested Citation

Partlett, William, Russia's 2020 Constitutional Amendments: A Comparative Perspective (June 12, 2020). Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies, Volume 23, 311-342 (2021), Available at SSRN: or

William Partlett (Contact Author)

Melbourne Law School ( email )

185 Pelham St
Carlton VIC
+61 3 8344 8740 (Phone)


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