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General characteristics of Russian constitutions 1918, 1925, 1937, 1978




The need for a new constitution in any country arises after any large-scale events of a socio-political nature: revolution, gaining independence, the collapse of the state, the formation of a new state unity, changing the form of government and political regime.

Each new constitution summarizes the concrete experience of history and enriches it with new content.

Starting from the first decrees of October, the constitutional legislation of Russia went through a rather long evolution: from the constitutions of 1918, 1925, 1937.1978 to the Constitution of the Russian Federation of 1993.

The first Constitution of the RSFSR was adopted by the V All-Russian Congress of Soviets on July 10, 1918. This was the Basic Law of the state in transition from capitalism to socialism . Its essence was the legal consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The supreme bearer of power proclaimed the entire working population of the country, united in urban and rural Soviets (Article 10), the Constitution of 1918 issued a system of representative democracy in the person of the Soviets.

Equal rights of citizens were recognized regardless of their racial or national origin. Any privileges or advantages were declared unlawful and, on this basis, any oppression of national minorities or the restriction of their equality.

At the same time , the ideological orientation of the Constitution was manifested in the deprivation of the electoral rights of non-proletarian sections of the population - representatives of the so-called “exploiting class”, clergy, former police officers, special gendarmerie corps and security department, members of the reigning house. In the formation of Soviets of all levels, the workers had certain advantages in comparison with the peasants. One of the main goals of the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat was proclaimed the ruthless suppression of the exploiters.

The Constitution of the RSFSR of 1918 secured the federal structure of Russia. It was envisaged that the Soviets of regions differing in their special way of life and national composition could unite in autonomous regional unions, which were part of the RSFSR on the basis of the federation (Article 11). A single, interconnected system of central and local government bodies was established.

With the formation of the USSR in 1922, the constitutional development of Russia, like other union republics, loses its independence and originality. The Republican Constitution largely copies the Union Constitution.

The second Constitution of the RSFSR , adopted on May 11, 1925 , following the USSR Constitution of 1924, reflected the softening of the political and economic situation in the country that occurred in connection with the end of the civil war and the formation of the USSR. This Constitution legally formalized the new state-legal status of Russia as a union republic within the USSR. The federal structure of Russia was constitutionally fixed. Article 2 of the Constitution of the RSFSR of 1925 stated “The Russian Republic is a socialist state of workers and peasants, built on the basis of a federation of national Soviet republics” (Article 2 of the Constitution of the RSFSR of 1925). This Constitution regulated in detail the structure of Soviet power: the powers of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars, enshrined the system of authorities of the autonomous socialist republics, local government bodies, the election procedure, budgetary rights of the RSFSR, and state symbols.


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The third Constitution of the RSFSR was adopted on January 21, 1937 , following the 1936 Constitution of the USSR. She proclaimed the completion of the foundations of socialism. This Constitution enshrined the foundations of the social and state system; rights and obligations of citizens; electoral system; system and competence of the supreme and local bodies of state power, administration, court and prosecutor's office. The constitution confirmed voluntary association with other equal republics within the USSR; the sovereign nature of the rights of the RSFSR outside the limits of union competence. And although socialist ideology permeated the Constitution of the RSFSR of 1937 (Articles 1, 12.129, 130, etc.), its text no longer contained explicit calls for the victory of socialism throughout the world. However, the 1937 Constitution was declarative and could not become a barrier to mass lawlessness and extrajudicial killings of 1937.



The Fourth Constitution - the Constitution (Basic Law) of the RSFSR of April 12, 1978, was developed in accordance with the 1977 Constitution of the USSR. She embodied a theoretically untenable concept of building developed socialism and a nation-wide socialist state. Social homogeneity and the strengthening of the moral and political unity of social groups and strata of society, the formation of a new historical community of people — the Soviet people — were proclaimed; secured public ownership of the means of production; the leading role of the CPSU in the political system. Scientific communism was recognized as the dominant ideology; the ultimate goal of social development is the construction of a classless communist society. Private property was not allowed. The planned management of the economy on the basis of strict centralization was consolidated. The organization of state power was traditionally based on the principle of supremacy of the Soviets.

The foreign policy goals and objectives of the RSFSR were associated with the confrontation of two world systems - capitalism and socialism, the balance of class forces on the world stage, the creation of new international relations, where Marxist ideology and socialist ideas prevail.

The RSFSR Constitution of 1978 was an ideological document. Marxist-Leninist doctrine, the ideas of communism were recognized by state ideology (preamble, art. 6). The state was proclaimed the main instrument for building socialism and communism. The leading role of the CPSU was consolidated, which, according to the Constitution, attached scientifically grounded character to the people's struggle for the victory of communism (Article 6). In accordance with Article 8 of the Constitution, labor collectives undertook to educate their members in the spirit of communist morality. Article 20 of the Constitution of the RSFSR referred to the communist ideal; Art. Art. 45, 49 - on the goals of communist construction.

The profound changes in the social system after 1985 in the USSR and the Russian Federation, especially after the failure of the August putsch of 1991, the collapse of the USSR could not but affect the content of the 1978 Constitution of Russia. She repeatedly and significantly changed.

Subject to the amendments of 1989-1992, the Constitution of the Russian Federation acquired fundamentally new features: rejection of the socialist model of social development, monopoly position of the CPSU in the political system, recognition of the ideology of pluralism, the concept of separation of powers.

The definitions “Soviet”, “socialist” were excluded from the official name of the country and republics within the Russian Federation, which meant recognition of the bankruptcy of the socialist development model. The country began to be called Russia - the Russian Federation. Political pluralism, plurality and equality of forms of ownership, including private, were legalized. In accordance with the theory of separation of powers, the institutions of state power were reorganized (the Institute of the President, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation were established), the rights of local self-government were expanded; the electoral system was updated. The Declaration of the rights and freedoms of man and citizen, adopted on November 22, 1991, was incorporated into the Constitution.

The state system was substantially transformed . The former autonomous republics and a number of autonomous okrugs and regions have achieved the status of republics within the Russian Federation. The status of territories, regions, cities of federal significance in Moscow and St. Petersburg has increased. On the basis of the federal treaty of March 31, 1992, the competence of state authorities of the Federation and its subjects was delimited; guarantees of territorial integrity of Russia were established. The termination of the USSR was due to the exclusion from the Constitution of articles restricting the sovereignty of Russia. The state symbols of Russia have changed. The full international legal personality of Russia and the independence of its foreign and defense policy were confirmed. The need for constitutional change was brewing objectively.





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