On the eve of July 1, 2020, the decisive Day of Voting on Amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, over the most urgent problems for the largest country in the world today, Ilya Ponomaryev, a well-known left-wing professional politician, will think and answer. Questions to the opposition and former State Duma deputy, who is a friend and regular partner of our Internet Portal Resistentiam, will be asked by Alyona Ageeva, current Commissioner of the Russian section of the International Combat Social Action SOUTH-EASTERN STAR.

Alyona Ageeva: What is your assessment of past performances on July 24 in honor of the 75th anniversary of Victory Day? Who was the most profitable for such a format? Can these “semi-phantom” late Parades bring negative mental, social and economic consequences for the Russian population? Or, perhaps, this whole story will simply put a kind of fat blot that deforms historical ties, decomposing them into leveled postmodern chaos? …

Ilya Ponomaryev: Your wording is very deep, of course. But in fact, everything is much simpler. Initially, Mr. Putin conceived all these great festivities – Victories, parades and all that, – only with the aim of inviting authoritative international leaders such as Emmanuel Marcon, Angela Merkel to Russia, they even say, boxer Mike Tyson was planning to be a guest of the United States. I think all this is mainly – to use this opportunity as an occasion to discuss the lifting of sanctions from Russia. And I’m sure that the initial plan of this state event was, first of all, aimed at the external consumer, and not at all at the internal one. Now we see that Putin’s main tasks are an under-referendum, a plebiscite, amendments to the Constitution and, accordingly, he hurried to hold ceremonial events before the start of the vote; well, and thus, we can say that this international aspect has been completely “leaked”. None, as we saw, of the desired leaders of the international community came to Moscow these days. But he achieved another goal: the effect on as many people as possible, deliberately “dusting” the brains of fellow citizens so that the majority of the country’s population would vote, and it is advisable to check the AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION.

A.A.: So, the most relevant for our famous Eurasian latitude: July 1. Amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation 2020. Boycott or against? A boycott of constitutional amendments or a vote against? I note that people have divided opinions about this. Although, as it seems to me, this statist procedure, exclusively, is “zeroing Putin with his eternal State”; and the updated Constitution, with its sensational amendments, will continue to gather dust as a “wedding general” for the State, which almost never resorted to it. And will the country continue to be generated in a direct course – to national Nazi neo-imperialist horror? And here is the main question: what solution for the Russian electorate can you name the most effective?

I.P.: I must say that we are primarily talking about the 1 Amendment, which removes restrictions for Putin in his tenure as president. And all the other 10 amendments, which is quite obvious, exist “for aversion of the eyes.” Well, with some of the other Amendments, I even agree in some ways; with some – disagree fundamentally. But even that part of the Amendments with which I agree, I want to note that they were originally, intentionally formulated in such a way that in practical terms they will never be implemented. Therefore, discussing this is pointless. The only thing that needs to be discussed is that Mr. Putin wants to be able to remain in power for an unlimited amount of time. The next question, as you rightly noted, is what is most effective now? – From the point of view of real politics, in my opinion, if someone stays at home in the “boycott” mode, this will definitely not happen, such positions will have absolutely no practical political benefit. For I know how this voting will be organized: if the turnout is not enough, it can always be “figured out”. And there’s some kind of pathos that’s now that if “we come to the vote only by adding legitimacy to Putin” – nothing more than an excuse for our laziness and our unwillingness to participate in real active political processes … I repeat, the boycott – there is no rational sense in this case does not bear at all. As for active voting – AGAINST AMENDMENTS; there is a chance for a high and by no means – not a zero chance that the majority of the population will vote against the amendments to the Constitution, that Putin will simply prioritize the election results by “completing” the necessary number of votes FOR AMENDMENTS. But we have already seen in 2011 that when the scale of falsification becomes too arrogant, people go to squares and streets. And, thereby, provoking power to gross falsification, is for you and me a positive result. Because it will lead to a new mass round of protest actions by those who want to change the current government. But there is a chance that we will win directly, according to the results of the vote; this, in my opinion, is absolutely real, because all today’s sociological studies show that the vast majority of the country is AGAINST AMENDMENTS. So our real legitimate victory is possible. But, true, World History knows many examples – both “on the left” and “on the right” – in authoritarian regimes, when even popular leaders lost similar referenda: for example, in Venezuela, a similar referendum was lost by Hugo Chavez, despite the fact that there is no doubt , his political figure was supported by an overwhelming number of people, but it’s not at all the fact that this same population was ready to write to Chavez “a mandate of unlimited possibilities to remain in power”. There was also another right-wing dictator Augusto Pinochet, who also lost in the referendum … Therefore, time confronts us with a situation in which we should not sit at home in front of the television, but try to do something, act in the context of the current political moment. Well – it will not work, so – it will not work, – but at least – you will try!

A.A.: Podemos! We can! But there is one nuance in the Russian, largely divided political opposition environment: some of our associates readily with the Kumaks go to any possible social actionism, still believing in democratic instruments of influence on the authorities. The other part – from equally desperate, bold and trained comrades, political activists who have set their goal – have to continue a thoughtful and cautious violent change in the socio-political system, not resorting to open action options, and not spending a limited resource of unique protest energy, so that they associates did not become sanctioned by the participants of the “performance society” …

I.P.: Yes, for some part, I perfectly understand the feeling of simple human political squeamishness, which today is a barrier for so many of our comrades-in-arms and potentially politically active citizens. I understand people who do not want anything to do with this power and, moreover, do not want to participate in any political procedures that this government suits. But, on the other hand, this is not a political position. If, on the basis of such a position, according to which you never win political elections, and you initially have no desire to come to these elections, – but, in the end, you still come and fight. And giving up the fight is unacceptable. Today we lost, tomorrow – we won! As for such an action as a boycott, its only rationality is the case when you are sure that by the boycott method you are moving towards some deliberate perfectly rational result. But in this case, as I said, I see absolutely nothing that could be achieved with the help of a boycott.

A.A.: … that is, to move from the irrational sphere of what is happening – into an attempt to legitimately, openly influence the current reality?

I.P.: In any case, this is a political action. In any case, this is a meaningful struggle, which makes sense just like a struggle. As Comrade Porthos from the Three Musketeers once said: “I fight because I fight.” And in the struggle we will gain our right. Not always can you know in advance that you will come and win; you have to fight when you believe in your victory, but you can never refuse to fight.

A.A.: Comrade Ilya, imagine for a moment that you are a revolutionary party leader, and in front of you is the 1000th audience of loyal volunteer fighters!  They ask you as a senior commandant: boycott? Or go and vote against the amendments? Or maybe even for? Justify your firm advice to young left-wing youth!

I.P.: It seems to me that I have completely and completely answered this question. But once again – I repeat: to vote for these amendments is simply embarrassing, because you take responsibility for the indefinite continuation of the current government, and there are no social handouts that they planned as part of these amendments, they in no way they justify further the preservation of the antisocial and antipopular regime existing in Russia in the future. Therefore, it is impossible to vote FOR AMENDMENTS under any circumstances. And, choosing between a boycott and VOTING AGAINST AMENDMENTS, – I generally think that a boycott is an action similar to a hunger strike, for example, that is, a certain, absolutely extreme measure, when you are sure that you will definitely achieve some necessary result. When you cannot be sure of it, you have to go and take the fight.

A.A.: Your immediate forecasts of an experienced left politician; if the upgrade-Constitution is nevertheless included in its active functions with the new brutal 11th Amendments; then – what possible changes await us at the legal, economic, cultural, ideological and social level.

I.P.: Let me repeat myself again: these amendments to reality by themselves will not have any relation whatsoever. They already enshrined those moments of laws that were adopted in the Russian Federation in recent years. And therefore, these amendments do not bring any changes for the worse or for the better. They certainly change the balance of power at the top, because now none of the classical Russian elite believes that Putin will leave; but by 2024, at least, he will cease to be the President of Russia, but he will still be in control of the situation, provided he has prepared and controlled a new president. Putin can then become the “Head of the Union State of Russia-Belarus”, he can become the “Chairman of the State Council” or appoint himself the “Pope of Rome” – anyone … Putin only, according to the law, by that period, will not be the “president”, but someone will be … And, accordingly, a lot of people in the ruling classes will be feverishly thinking who will be the very “president – from Putin.” Today, as a result of this “zeroing”, Putin tells everyone: you are all free, you can relax; – If I want, I will be in power. And, since everyone is sure that Putin wants to always remain at the helm, so for all this is the answer that he will remain President. Accordingly, of course, he raised the degree of the intra-elite beaver very much. Well, the opposite is true; because if Putin gets the overwhelming “AGAINST”, and even if, again, the results are falsified in his favor, those people in power who will falsify the results, they will still be aware of themselves, will be information carriers of the perfect by order of criminal action. And all these people will know how the citizens actually voted. After all, results will be summed up in each region; hundreds of local election commissions will witness what the results of the vote were? And this means that the legitimacy of this power – in the eyes of the same Putin elite, will be drastically reduced. And the stability of this imperious regime will also be greatly reduced. People will understand that the “autumn of the patriarch” is beginning, and that this situation will not last long, Mr. Putin will begin to irrevocably lose its former popularity. And we, comrades, need to help this process, speed it up – that’s why we must go to vote AGAINST AMENDMENTS.

A.A.: But after all, the “autumn of the patriarch” can last quite a long time. And during this period, the Putin regime will “tighten the screws” a lot, strengthen and expand the process of de-communization and Nazification, which we all observe. Will the social-ideological paradigm of the new Constitution play a key legitimizing role in these alarming processes if its characteristic Amendments win?

I.P.: I want to say that they do not need the Constitution for this. Our entire experience of recent years has clearly shown that, without resorting to the Constitution, government officials hastily wrote convenient laws prohibiting something or, on the contrary, legitimizing them. In order for the authorities and law enforcement agencies to ban something, restrict or repress someone, they have enough of their own legal field. For these acts, they absolutely do not need the Constitution or the Constitution as amended.


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