In an interview with state-run TV channel Rossiya 1, President Vladimir Putin criticised the former Soviet republics’ having a legal possibility to leave the USSR.
The Russian leader pushed back against Vladimir Lenin‘s thesis about the right of the union republics to secede from the Soviet Union.
“Lenin had been obsessed with the idea since 1908-1909. Everything stemmed from the nations’ right to self-determination; then it transformed into state-building in such a way that the establishment of a single state, the Soviet Union, was essentially about restoring historical Russia to its former borders, and the newly-created union republics had the right to withdraw from it,” Putin said.
According to him, Joseph Stalin had a different point of view; he stressed ‘the need for autonomy of national unions, for their entry into the RSFSR on the rights of autonomy’, with no provision for their exit.
“But in the end, Lenin’s idea was turned into reality and the right to leave the Soviet Union was enshrined in the Union Treaty of 1922,” the Russian leader noted.
Then, these provisions started wandering from one constitution to another in the Soviet era, but the order of withdrawing from the Soviet Union was never written into the basic law, he stressed.
As a result, any republic that became part of the USSR and received ‘much of Russian lands, ancestral territories of Russia’, could leave the Union and took along ‘the gifts from the Russian people’, Vladimir Putin believes.
Therefore, the amendments regarding the inviolability of the country’s borders and the impossibility of depriving Russia of its territories have been moved to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, he added.