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KOZAK: POWER CENTRALIZATION - A TEMPORARY EMERGENCY MOVE
MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti's Vasily Tolkachev) - The political reform implemented on Vladimir Putin's initiative today is a temporary emergency measure, Dmitry Kozak, the president's plenipotentiary representative in the Southern Federal District, told reporters yesterday.
In essence, the federal center will assume more responsibility for regional problems, stressed Kozak. However, despite this emergency centralization, the legislative assemblies will continue to be elected. Consequently, the regions will preserve a fair share of their autonomous status: "Laws will be passed by legislative bodies independently, and the governor or president of the republic in hand will have to comply abide by the regional laws."
According to Kozak, the new process of executive body formation has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, "there will be a real administrative lever" for making sure that "the new rules of federal relationships and local self-government formation, worked out in the past two years," to be introduced in January 1, 2005, are observed. "These rules are designed to give a positive impulse for the country's socio-economic development. On the other hand, regional power bodies will now be more dependent on the center than on the local residents. "This minus can be compensated if the governor appointment is approached delicately, wisely and with due consideration for the regions' opinion," said Kozak. "We will suggest such leaders who enjoy authority and support among people."
Russia is used to forming regional executive bodies through direct elections. However, the political system is not mature enough and political parties are not strong enough yet, so the democratic effect of these elections is insignificant. Therefore, the official believes, "debates about whether democracy has increased or decreased in Russia are relative." Moreover, he recalls, municipal self-government leaders are appointed in coordinated with the federal authorities in many European countries.
If the model proposed by Vladimir Putin had been put forward at a time when democracy began to be develop in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, hardly anybody would have doubted the democratic character of this model, believes Kozak. In terms of the norms that have existed in Russia until recently, Russia has possibly been one of the most democratic countries in the world. "But is it the most developed country in political terms?" "We have had a multiparty system, freedom of the press, etc. for ten years only," he said. Russia is passing from supra-democratic rules that it is not ready for to less democratic ones. Hence there may be an impression that we have made "a certain step to totalitarianism." In reality, it is rather a transitional period; we are not talking about a strategic course here but about temporary measures, said Dmitry Kozak.