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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Ready For Holiday Weekend




Friday is Constitution Day, a federal holiday commemorating the passage of the new constitution by referendum Dec. 12, 1993.


Most Russians, however, think less about the day's political significance and more about a three-day weekend, compliments of the federal government.


As with several other post-Soviet holidays, there won't be much going on to mark it. The Moscow city government isn't sponsoring any public events for the holiday, according to the mayor's press office.


President Boris Yeltsin was originally scheduled to host a ceremony Friday in the Kremlin for members of the legal profession, but that was before he was hospitalized Wednesday.


Commenting on the holiday, Ernest Ametistov, a Constitutional Court judge, said Russian society has changed significantly in the way it views the constitution.


"Judges are beginning to base decisions on the constitution," he said. "This is a completely new phenomenon in Russian legal practice, when even 10 years ago decisions were made not according to the law but by the order of the party elite. No one paid attention to the constitution." he said.


The right to buy and sell land, live where one wishes regardless of the propiska, or residence permit, system and perform alternative military service, all guaranteed under the constitution, but have not been put in practice. This, Ametistov said, is the fault of legislators, who have not passed the requisite laws.


Federal and city government offices will be closed Friday, and stores may close. The Historical Museum on Red Square will be open Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the Pushkin Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.