Vladimir Putin supports the idea to ban territory alienation at the constitutional level
By: Russian press association
Political experts point to the fact that this will both secure indivisibility of Russian borders and neutralize work towards peace treaty carried out by the Russian and Japanese parties. Consequently, the opportunity to transfer Kuril Islands (Shikotan, Iturup, Kunashir), which Japan wants to get back, will be nullified. Japan also has territorial grievances over unpopulated islands of Smaller Kuril Archipelago, that are now part of Sakhalin oblast. Those are called "Northern territories"
The idea to amend the Constitution was put forward by Vladimir Putin during his Address to the Federal Assembly. In five days, on January 20th, a corresponding bill was introduced to the State Duma. The lower chamber unanimously supported the bill in the first reading. It is expected that in order to introduce new amendments to the Constitution, a popular referendum will be carried out. It will take place on one of the working days that will be declared a day off. Constitutional amendments put forward by the Russian president, suggest broadening of parliament powers, prohibition for high ranking officials to possess other countries' residence permit, limitation of presidential terms, as well as supremacy of the Constitution over the international law and reinforcement of state's social commitment.
Aside from Japan, Ukraine regularly raises territorial grievances over Crimea and tries to contravene results of the popular referendum on the peninsula. On March 16th 2014 96.7% of Crimean population that took part in the referendum voted for reunification with Russia.
However, some experts, like Gerhard Mangott, political science professor at the University of Innsbruck, believe that these two cases are different:
- I see the meaning of such a constitutional provision in securing Russia's territorial and legal hold on Crimea and Sevastopol. I don't necessarily see a conflict with Russian-Japanese negotiations. They have been stuck for a long while and an exchange of some islands of the Southern Kurils will not be on the table anytime soon, - he said.