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Future, Past and Present in Russian Constitutional Politics: Russian Constitutions in a Conceptual-Historical Perspective

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The present article uses the methods of conceptual history to investigate the transformation of Soviet and Russian constitutional concepts. My intention is to show the whole constitutional movement of Russia, and to focus on the 'time layers' (future, past and present) used by actors in constructing the key concepts that inform the narratives of the constitutional unity of the Soviet Union/Russian Federation. By focusing on the six constitutions adopted in the Soviet Union/Russian Federation, the article will seek to show that Soviet/Russian conceptual history is more multifaceted, and more political in nature, than is commonly thought. Because the political unity of the state was restricted not only by the constitution, but also by the party ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, political debates concerning constitutional concepts represented the key discussions for all the reformative pursuits of Soviet politics. Constitutional concepts were the most important means to argue and create a basis for a new political presentation and new political programs. This pattern has also been typical of present-day Russian politics, with the difference that, so far, only one constitution has been adopted in the Russian Federation. Specifically, we will seek to relate Putin's constitutional concepts to the textual base, and the political background, of the previous constitutions. On a more general level, the present article should contribute to the development of a theory of periodization that takes into consideration the shifts in a period's key concepts and vocabularies.


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