CONSTITUTION OF THE UNION
OF SOVIET REPUBLICS
OF EUROPE AND ASIA
A discussion draft by Andrei D. Sakharov
prepared in December, 1989
Translation © 1990 by Lowry Wyman
Fellow, Russian Research Center, Harvard University.
Published by Ab Imperio Quarterly (2005), pp. 361-372.
1. The Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia (the European-Asian Union, or, in its abbreviated form, the Soviet Union) shall be a voluntary union of sovereign republics (states) of Europe and Asia.
2. The aim of the people of the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia shall be to ensure a happy and full life, material and spiritual freedom, prosperity, peace, and security for all citizens of the country and for all people on Earth, regardless of their race, nationality, sex, age, or social status.
3. The European-Asian Union shall be guided in its development by the moral and cultural traditions of Europe and Asia and all humanity — all races and all peoples.
4. The Union, through its government bodies and citizens, shall strive to maintain peace throughout the world, to maintain a habitable environment, to maintain the external and internal conditions for the existence of humanity and life on the whole Earth, and to ensure harmony in economic, social, and political development throughout the world. Global aims for the survival of humanity shall have priority over any regional, state, national, class, party, group or individual aims. Over the long run, the Union through its government bodies and citizens shall strive to bring about a pluralistic rapprochement (convergence) of the socialist and capitalist systems, as a means of reaching a unified and coordinated decision of global and internal problems. Such rapprochement shall, in the future, find its political expression in the creation of a world government.
5. All people have the right to life, liberty, and happiness. It shall be the aim and duty of citizens and the state to uphold the social, economic, and civil rights of the individual. In exercising their rights, citizens must not infringe upon the rights of others, or the interests of society as a whole. Citizens and organizations must act in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the Union and republics and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. International laws and treaties adopted by the USSR and the Union, including the Covenants on Human Rights of the United Nations and the Constitution of the Union, shall be directly enforceable on the territory of the Union and shall prevail over the laws of the Union and the republics.
6. The Constitution of the Union guarantees the following civil rights: freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and informational exchange, freedom of religion, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of emigration and the right to return to one’s country, freedom to travel abroad, freedom of movement, the right to freely choose one’s domicile, vocation, and education within one’s country, the right to privacy and the security of one’s abode, and freedom from arbitrary arrest and unsubstantiated compulsory medical treatment or psychiatric hospitalization. No one shall be subjected to criminal or administrative sanctions for actions associated with one’s personal convictions if these actions are not violent, do not include appeals to violence, do not otherwise infringe upon the rights of others, or do not constitute high treason.
The Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state and the noninterference of the state in one’s internal church life.
7. The principles of pluralism and tolerance shall be the foundation of the political, cultural, and ideological life of society.
8. No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel treatment. Capital punishment shall be prohibited on the territory of the Union during peacetime.
Medical and psychological experiments without the consent of those undergoing the experiments shall be prohibited.
9. The presumption of innocence shall be the fundamental principle underlying judicial examination of any charges against any person. No one shall be deprived of any rank [honors] or membership in any organization, or be publicly declared guilty of having committed a crime, until there is a court decision [on the matter] that has entered into legal force.
10. On the territory of the Union there shall be no discrimination in wages or access to particular employment, or in admission to educational institutions or access to particular forms of education, whether on the basis of nationality, religious or political convictions, or (except as specifically provided by law) on the basis of sex, age, health, or prior criminal record.
On the territory of the Union there shall be no discrimination in the provision of housing or medical care, or with respect to other social matters, whether on the basis of sex, nationality, religious or political convictions, age or health, or prior criminal record.
11. No one shall live in poverty. Pensions for the elderly, and for disabled war veterans, disabled workers, or persons disabled in childhood, shall not be below the minimum living standard. Benefits and other forms of social welfare must guarantee a level of life for all members of society that is not below the minimum standard. Medical care for citizens, and the educational system, shall be based on principles of social equity, so that minimally sufficient medical care (free and paid), [schools], and places of rest and recreation, without regard to material wealth, place of residence, or occupation, shall be available to everyone.
At the same time, paid systems of the highest levels of medical care, and schooling based on competition, shall also exist in the Union.
12. The Union shall not have any expansionist, aggressive, or messianic aims. Its Armed Forces shall be developed according to the principle of defense sufficiency.
13. The Union affirms the principle of refusing to be the first to employ nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons of whatever type and power shall be employed only with the approval of the Commander in Chief of the country’s Armed Forces, upon having found sufficient evidence of the intentional use of nuclear weapons by an adversary and upon the exhaustion of other means of resolving the conflict. The Commander in Chief shall have the right to call off a nuclear attack undertaken by mistake, and in particular to destroy in flight intercontinental missiles and other means of nuclear attack launched by mistake. Nuclear weapons shall be only a means of staving off a nuclear attack by an adversary.
The long-range goal of the Union shall be the complete elimination and prohibition of nuclear weapons and other means of mass annihilation, on conditions of parity in ordinary weapons, upon resolving regional conflicts and upon the overall reduction of all factors giving rise to tension and mistrust.
14. The operation of any secret services to protect the social and state order shall be prohibited in the Union. Secret activity outside the Union shall be limited to gathering intelligence and counterintelligence. Secret political, subversive, and disinformational activity shall be prohibited. State troops of the Union shall participate in the international struggle against terrorism and trade in narcotics.
15. A basic and supreme right of each nation and republic shall be the right to self-determination.
16. A republic shall join the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia on the basis of a Union treaty adopted in accordance with the will of its population as expressed in a decision by its supreme legislative body.
Additional terms for a republic joining the Union shall be set forth in a special protocol in accordance with the will of its population. The Constitution does not contemplate any national-territorial entities other than republics, but a republic may be divided into separate administrative-economic regions.
A decision on whether a republic shall join the Union shall take place at the Founding Congress of the Union or at a Congress of People’s Deputies of the Union.
17. A republic shall have the right to secede from the Union. The decision on a republic’s secession from the Union shall be made by the supreme legislative body of the republic in accordance with a referendum held on the territory of the republic no earlier than one year after the republic has joined the Union.
18. A republic may be expelled from the Union. The expulsion of a republic from the Union shall take effect upon the decision of at least a 2/3 majority of the Congress of People’s Deputies of the Union, in accordance with the will of the population of the Union, and no earlier than three years after the republic has joined the Union.
19. Republics joining the Union shall adopt the Constitution of the Union as their Fundamental Law, as having effect on the territory of the republic along with the republic’s constitution. Republics shall entrust to the Central Government the pursuit of the basic goals of the country’s foreign policy and defense. One monetary system shall be in effect throughout the Union. Republics shall accord to the Central Government the power to operate Union-wide systems of transportation and communications. In addition to those conditions already mentioned for a republic joining the Union, individual republics may grant other functions to the Central Government, and may completely or partially join together the governmental bodies of their constituent republics. Such additional conditions for a particular republic’s membership in the Union shall be formulated in a protocol to the Union treaty and shall be based on a referendum taken on the territory of that republic.
A republic may establish republican citizenship, which shall be concurrent with Union citizenship.
20. The defense of the country from external attack shall be entrusted to the Armed Forces, which shall be raised on the basis of Union law. In accordance with a special protocol, a republic may have republican military forces or other armed services, which shall be recruited from the population of the republic and deployed on its territory. Republican military forces and subunits shall be part of the Union military forces and subject to one command. All supplies for the Armed Forces — armaments, equipment, and food — shall be centrally controlled and provided from the Union budget.
21. A republic may have a republican monetary system, which shall operate in conjunction with the Union monetary system. In this instance, republican bank notes must be accepted on the territory of the republic. Union bank notes must be used in all Union establishments, and may be used in all other establishments. Only the Central Bank of the Union shall have the right to issue or withdraw Union and republican bank notes.
22. Unless otherwise stated in a special protocol, a republic shall possess full economic independence. All decisions relating to economic affairs and economic development, except for those relating to functions entrusted to the Central Government, shall be made by the appropriate bodies of the republic. No development of Union significance can occur without the consent of the republic’s executive agencies. All taxes and other revenues from industry and the population on the territory of the republic shall go to the budget of the republic. A sum determined by the Union’s Budget Committee, on the basis of conditions contained in a special protocol, shall be taken from the republican budget to support the functions entrusted to the Central Government.
The remaining financial resources of the budget shall be made fully available to the Government of the republic.
A republic shall have the right to establish direct international economic contacts, including direct trade relations, and to organize joint enterprises with foreign partners. Customs rules shall remain Union in nature.
23. A republic shall have its own bodies of law enforcement (police, ministry of internal affairs, correctional system, procuracy, and court system), which shall be independent of the Central Government. Decisions in criminal cases may be annulled in the form of a pardon by the President of the Union. Union laws, provided they have been approved by the republic’s supreme legislative body, and the laws of the republic, shall be in effect on the territory of the republic.
24. The language of the nationality indicated in the name of a republic shall be the official language on the republic’s territory. If two or more nationalities are indicated in the name of the republic, two or more languages shall be used as official languages on the republic’s territory. In all republics of the Union the official language of inter-republican relations shall be the Russian language. The Russian language shall be used in all republics of the Union as the official language of inter-republican relations. The Russian language shall have equal status with the official language of the republic in all institutions and enterprises under Union control. The language used between nations and nationalities shall not be determined as a constitutional principle. In the Russian republic the Russian language shall be both the official language of the republic and the language of inter-republican relations.
25. The original constituent parts of the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia shall be the union and autonomous republics, the national autonomous regions, and the national districts of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The national-constitutional process shall begin with a declaration of the independence of all the national-territorial structural parts of the USSR that make up the sovereign republics (states). On the basis of a referendum, some of these parts may join one another. The division of a republic into administrative-economic regions shall be determined by the constitution of the republic.
26. The borders between republics shall remain fixed for the first ten years following the Founding Congress. Later, any alteration of borders between republics, the amalgamation of republics, and the division of republics into smaller units shall be effected in accordance with the will of the population of these republics and the principle of self-determination of nations, in the course of peaceful negotiations with the participation of the Central Government.
27. The Central Government of the Union shall be situated in the capital (a major city) of the Union. No capital of a republic, including the capital of Russia, can at the same time be the capital of the Union.
28. The Central Government shall comprise:
(1) the Congress of People’s Deputies of the Union;
(2) the Council of Ministers of the Union;
(3) the Supreme Court of the Union.
The head of the Central Government of the Union shall be the President of the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. The Central Government shall possess the full extent of the supreme power in the country and shall not share it with the leading bodies of any party.
29. The Congress of People’s Deputies shall have two chambers. The first Chamber — the Chamber of the Republics (400 deputies) — shall be elected on a territorial basis, with one deputy from each electoral district, and with each constituency having a more or less equal number of voters. The second Chamber — the Chamber of Nationalities — shall be elected on a national basis. Voters of every nationality with their own language shall elect a specific number of deputies, based on one deputy per two million voters of a given nationality, with two additional deputies for that nationality. This overall quota shall be spread among [the various] voting districts. Elections to both chambers shall be on the basis of universal and direct suffrage, with a choice of candidates, and shall be for a term of 5 years.
Both chambers shall sit jointly, but on various questions — raised according to the internal rules of the Congress — the chambers shall vote separately. When adopting laws or resolutions, a decision of both chambers shall be required for their passage.
30. The Congress of People’s Deputies of the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia shall possess the highest legislative power of the country. Laws of the Union that do not touch upon provisions of the Constitution shall be adopted by a simple majority of the deputies on the roster of both chambers and shall take precedence over all legislative acts of the Union, except for the Constitution.
Laws of the Union that touch upon provisions of the Constitution of the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia, as well as other amendments to the text of the Constitution, shall be adopted by a qualified majority of not less than 2/3 of the deputies on the roster of both chambers of the Congress. Decisions adopted in this manner shall take precedence over all other legislative acts of Union-wide application.
31. The Congress shall consider the budget of the Union and amendments thereto, using the report presented by the Congress Budget Committee. The Congress shall appoint the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union, the ministers of foreign affairs and defense, and other high officials of the Union. The Congress shall establish a Commission to fulfill various duties, such as the preparation of legislation and the review of situational conflicts. The Congress shall establish standing Committees to elaborate future plans for the country’s development, for preparing the budget, and for supervising the work of executive bodies. The Congress shall regulate the work of the Central Bank. Unbalanced issuances of Union and republican bank notes, or the withdrawal of bank notes from circulation, can be effected only with the sanction of the Congress.
32. The Congress shall elect a Presidium from its body. The members of the Presidium of the Congress shall chair the Congress and fulfill organizational functions, securing the proper functioning of the Congress, its Commissions, and Committees. The members of the Presidium shall not have any other functions and shall not hold any other leading posts in the Government of the Union, the republics, or [any] parties.
33. The Council of Ministers shall include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Defense Industry, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Union Transportation, the Ministry of Union Communications, as well as other ministries required to fulfill other functions entrusted to the Central Government by individual republics in accordance with special protocols appended to the Union treaty. The Council of Ministers shall also include Committees under the Council of Ministers of the Union.
Candidates for all the posts of minister, except for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defense, shall be proposed by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers and confirmed by the Congress. The Chairmen of the Committees under the Council of Ministers shall be appointed in the same manner.
34. The Supreme Court of the Union shall have four chambers:
(1) the chamber for criminal cases;
(2) the chamber for civil cases;
(3) the chamber for arbitrazh [see footnote];
(4) a constitutional court.
The Chairman of each chamber shall be elected by the Congress of People’s Deputies on the basis of alternative candidates.
The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall extend to problems and cases of a union and inter-republican character.
35. The President of the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia shall be elected for a term of five years in direct and general elections on the basis of alternative candidates. Before the election, each candidate for President shall name a Deputy, who shall run for election on the same ballot as the President.
The President shall not combine his post with a leading post of any party. The President can be removed from office in accordance with a referendum on the territory of the Union, the decision for which must be made by the Congress of People’s Deputies of the Union by a majority of not less than 2/3 of the roster of deputies. A vote to hold a referendum shall occur upon the demand of no fewer than 60 deputies. In the case of the death of the President, or his removal from office, or his inability to carry out his duties because of illness or other reasons, his powers shall be transferred to his Deputy.
36. The President shall represent the Union in international negotiations and ceremonies. The President shall be the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Union. The President shall have the right of legislative initiative with respect to Union laws and shall have the right to veto any laws and resolutions adopted by fewer than 55 percent of the deputies on the roster of the Congress of People’s Deputies. The Congress may put a vetoed law to a repeat vote, but not more than twice.
37. The economic structure of the Union shall be based on a pluralistic integration of state (republican, inter-republican, and Union), cooperative, stock, and private (individual) ownership of the means of production; on all forms of industrial and agricultural technology; on industry, roads, and means of transportation; on the means of communication and informational exchange, including the mass media; on property for personal use, including housing; and on intellectual property, including copyrights and patents. State enterprises may be transferred to collectives or private persons on term leases or leases for an unlimited term.
38. The land, its minerals, and water resources shall be the property of the republic and of those nations (peoples) who live on its territory. Land may be transferred without the use of middlemen, for use for an unlimited [indefinite] term, to private persons, or state, cooperative, or stock organizations, upon payment of a land tax into the republic’s budget. Private individuals shall be guaranteed the right to bequeath to their children and their close relatives the use [and possession] of land. Land whose use is in private hands can be returned to the republic only upon the consent of the user or upon violation of the rules relating to the use of land or upon the need of the state to use the land, [which shall be] determined by a decision of the legislative body of the republic and [shall include] compensation to the user.
39. Land may be sold as property to a private person and to work collectives. Restrictions upon the resale and other conditions relating to the use of land that is privately owned shall be determined by the law of the republic.
40. The amount of private property that any individual may own, including inventions, acquisitions, or inheritance acquired without violating the law, shall not be restricted (except in the case of land). The unrestricted right to inheritance shall be guaranteed with respect to private property in homes and apartments, with the unrestricted right to bequeath them to one’s heirs, as well as with respect to any and all means of production and financial resources such as bank notes and stocks. The right to inherit intellectual property shall be defined by the laws of the republic.
41. Everyone shall have the right to be the master of his own physical and intellectual abilities.
42. Private individuals, cooperatives, and stock or state enterprises shall have the right to employ an unlimited number of people in accordance with labor law.
43. The use of water resources and other recoverable resources by state, cooperative, leased, and privately-owned enterprises, and by private individuals, shall be paid for by a tax into the budget of the republic. The use of non-recoverable resources shall be paid for, with the money going into the budget of the republic.
44. Enterprises, irrespective of their form of ownership, shall enjoy equal economic, social, and legal rights, and shall have the benefit of equal and complete independence in the distribution and use of their income after taxes, the planning of production, the nature and output of production, the supply of raw materials, the preparation of workpieces, semi-finished items, and standard parts, as well as in personnel matters and in determining prices and wages; uniform taxes shall be levied, but not to exceed 30 percent of actual profit, and enterprises shall in equal measure bear responsibility for the ecological and social consequences of their activity.
45. The management system for the supply and sale of products in industry and agriculture, with the exception of Union enterprises and organizations, shall be organized in the interests of the direct producers by the bodies of management responsible for the supply and marketing of products.
46. The principles of the market and competition shall form the basis for economic regulation in the Union. State regulation of the economy shall be exercised through the economic activity of state enterprises and through legislative support for market principles, pluralistic competition, and social justice.
Footnote to 34(3): Perhaps, handling commercial disputes, as during the Soviet era.
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