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BBC Monitoring
Idea of five-year term in Russia is not necessarily for Putin's presidency
Source: Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1725 gmt 8 Dec 01

The newly-appointed speaker of the upper house, Sergey Mironov, has explained his statement of 7 December that four years is too short as a presidential term and has said that his ideas for a longer term do not necessarily relate to Putin's period in office.

The presidential term should be "five years as a minimum", he told RTV's Zerkalo programme today: "A president is elected. He spends about one-and-a-half years just getting used to things. Then he starts taking decisions and tries to fulfil the promises he made to the electorate during the election campaign." "After this he has to start thinking about the next election campaign. Let's be open about this - often, on the eve of electoral campaigns, people do not want to deal with one or another issue because they could be unpopular issues. In a word, you are already in the period that you tend to devote more to the coming election campaign. And all this within four years! I think one year ['s extension] as a minimum would not hurt anyone. All other ideas can be discussed and I think that anyway it is not an issue for right now. This concerns changes to the constitution, which I think is also not a question for right now."

He added: "It is not laid down that these changes to the term are to be undertaken during Vladimir Putin's presidency. We have to think about these things, discuss them openly. And in any case, I will repeat - this is a change to the constitution, but the time for making changes to the constitution is not yet upon us."

In Mironov's opinion, major changes to the constitution are an issue to be handled in the distant future. He said the current constitution was "a completely workable one", that to change it "at a time when there is no law on a constitutional assembly or conference would not be realistic", that single amendments "are not expedient because they are very difficult to make" and that if you are to change whole sections you are then in the field of changing all clauses of the constitution, and "in my view this is for the somewhat distant future".

Asked by callers to the programme if he would still have been appointed to his new post had he not been from St Petersburg, Putin's territory, Mironov said "I won't try to hide things - the fact that I knew Vladimir Putin at some stage and that Vladimir Putin knows me probably played a role. But I would nonetheless like to believe it was not only my coming from St Petersburg that played the main role here."

He confirmed that it was upper house speaker Yegor Stroyev who proposed him as a successor: "I should say that after working for five months in the Federal Assembly, I think my colleagues were able to assess my skills and potential, and when the Federatsiya group proposed my name to Yegor Stroyev, he told me that other senators had also proposed me. And while the Federatsiya group proposed only me, other senators proposed several candidates and my name was also among these. Yegor Semenovich Stroyev took the decision."

One caller to the programme asked if anything was going to be done to check how budget money is used and made references to the financial estates of former Gazprom boss Rem Vyakhirev and former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin as well as to the Unified Energy System of Russia. Mironov said the Federation Council would from now on be working very closely with the Audit Chamber

"I will mention just one aspect of the Federation Council's plans - to embark on a completely different level of cooperation with the Audit Chamber of the Russian Federation. And I again want to stress that it will be new. We want to organize our work differently - starting by having an official representative of the Federation Council in the Audit Chamber - and to combine the possibilities presented by the Audit Chamber and the possibilities presented by the Federation Council."

"A new Federation Council functioning on a permanent basis will be formed somewhere around the end of January beginning of February 2002," Mironov said.

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