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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Court Chief Calls Constitution 'Unshakable'

The new head of Russia's Constitutional Court said Tuesday that he saw no reason to revise the constitution, which gives extensive powers to President Boris Yeltsin.

Marat Baglai was chosen last week to head the court while some of Yeltsin's political opponents, and even some of his aides were clamoring for constitutional amendments that would limit the president's authority.

But Baglai said at a news conference Tuesday that the parliament should learn to live with the constitution as it stands.

"We proceed on the premise that [the constitution] is an unshakable document," Baglai said.

"It is like a [religious] icon," he added. "What is valued in an icon? The older it is, the more valuable it is."

Baglai said he believed the recent talk about changing the constitution was "mere politics, because it concerns the problem of power redistribution."

"The issue of a redistribution of power has been raised by political forces," he said.

The constitution was crafted under Yeltsin's supervision in 1993, and gives the president strong powers in comparison to parliament.

During Yeltsin's prolonged absences from the Kremlin because of health problems, some of his opponents have sought his ouster by calling for constitutional amendments.

But a recovering Yeltsin met Baglai on Monday and told him: "We must not speak about any revision or amendments.''

Baglai, 65, was elected by the Constitutional Court judges last week to replace Vladimir Tumanov, who retired. Baglai, on the judges' panel since 1995, is a former law professor and legal scholar. (AP, Interfax)