Russia: What the new constitution says

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The Independent Online
KEY provisions of Russia's new constitution, approved by voters on Sunday:

History: Replaces 1978 document, adopted under the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and amended hundreds of times in recent years.

President: Elected to a four-year term and cannot serve more than two terms in a row. A special provision allows President Boris Yeltsin to serve out his current term, which expires in 1996.

Vice-President: Post eliminated. The prime minister would succeed the president.

Private property and land: Guarantees right to private ownership of land and other property, which can only be seized by court order. Restrictions on free sale and purchase of land already lifted.

Free enterprise: Guarantees freedom of trade, competition and economic activity.

Privacy: Guarantees private telephone calls and letters and telegrams, except by court order.

Freedom of movement: People can freely leave and return to Russia, and no citizen can be expelled involuntarily.

Censorship: Forbidden.

Religion: Guarantees freedom of conscience, 'including the right to profess individually or as a group any religion, or not to profess any'. Citizens can refuse to specify ethnic origin on passports.

Torture: 'Nobody can be subjected to torture, violence, or cruel or humiliating treatment or punishment. Nobody can be exposed to medical, scientific or other experiments without their voluntary consent.'

Emergency rule: The president can introduce a state of emergency and temporarily restrict some civil freedoms under laws to be drafted by the new parliament.

Parliament: The president can disband the lower chamber of parliament if it rejects his candidate for prime minister three times or if it takes a no-confidence vote in the government more than a year after the last election.

Slave labour: The practice of 'forced labour' under which millions of Soviet citizens were sent to camps in Siberia is forbidden.

Decrees: The president can issue decrees, which have the power of law but do not have to be approved by parliament.

Political parties: Guarantees a multiparty system and says 'no ideology can be established as an official or obligatory one'.

Constitutional changes: Can be proposed by the president or parliament but must be sent to a constitutional assembly convened on a three-fifths vote by both houses of parliament. Fundamental changes must be approved by the constitutional assembly or submitted to a nationwide referendum that requires a minimum 50 per cent turnout.