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IS MOSCOW READY TO TONE DOWN POLITICAL REFORM ON THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S DEMAND?
MOSCOW, Nov 5 (RIA Novosti) - Yesterday, the Russian authorities had to defend the president's government reform on the international arena. Participants in the fall session of the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, which has opened in Strasbourg, criticized Vladimir Putin's proposals (in particular, to appoint governors by regional parliaments on the president's recommendations), Kommersant writes.
After the session, Sergei Samoilov, the president's adviser on federalism and local self-government, shared his considerations with the newspaper regarding the compromises Moscow could afford on the Council of Europe's request. It has become clear, above all, that Russia is ready to reconsider possible mechanisms for dissolving parliaments (according to the bill at issue, a local parliament can be dissolved if its members reject the governor's candidacy twice), as the original reading of the bill provided "an inadequate scheme." Mr. Samoilov also said that Russia would have a law on the direct elections of members to the Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) by 2007, which will clear the president of the accusations that he appoints half of the upper house. According to the presidential adviser, elections to the Federation Council are highly likely to be linked to elections to the State Duma (lower house).
When replying to the questions of Council of Europe representatives yesterday, Mr. Samoilov said that President Putin's initiatives fully corresponded to the Constitution, which stipulates a single executive vertical in the country.
Mr. Samoilov also said that the Russian president's plans did not include extending the vertical of power further to the municipal level, i.e. the appointment of mayors, and that governors would be replaced democratically as soon as their term expired.