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MOSCOW, November 17 (Itar-Tass) — The decision in principle on the construction of a parliamentary centre in Russia has been made. “And that’s absolutely right,” head of the Federation Council upper house of Russia’s parliament Valentina Matviyenko believes.
In an interview published by the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily on Thursday she announced that an agreement has been made with the chairman of the State Duma lower house, Boris Gryzlov, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that “within the work to change the boundaries of Moscow a separate meeting will be held on the transfer of all bodies of authority to new territories and their development.”
“This is so far preliminary information,” Matviyenko made a reservation, “but if this decision is made, then the construction of a new parliamentary centre will begin there,” and “we will be the anchor project for the construction and development of these new territories.”
According to her, “the final decision will be made by the president and prime minister somewhat later, after elections in a separate meeting.”
Matviyenko is confident that the centre “will only raise the efficiency of our work, and we will transfer for other purposes a large number of buildings which are now used inefficiently.”
When the Duma has several buildings and the Federation Council has several buildings, it is very inconvenient, especially considering the traffic jams in Moscow. And we only intensify congestion by our movements. “So, the first idea of ··the parliamentary centre is to house both the State Duma and the Federation Council. In addition, it will remove many administrative structures that duplicate each other in the two houses. This means saving personnel and saving money,” Matviyenko explained. In her view, the project implementation “will bring only pluses and no minuses.” She said, “Several buildings in the city centre that are still not functionally adapted for the activity of the parliament, will be put to auction. Their sale will give much more funds than required for the construction of a new parliamentary centre, pre-adapted to the conditions of the lawmakers’ work.”
Matviyenko said that “today the FC members literally confined into tiny office, where it is difficult to receive even a man from the region. And they, by virtue of their responsibilities, also receive foreign delegations. All who come to us for the parliamentary hearings leave their cars somewhere in the alleys and walk to the building, because the Federation Council has no parking lot or drop-off.”
The FC head suggested in this connection to look at other countries around the world – “as a rule, there have the Presidential Palace, government buildings and the parliament building. It is a way to express respect to the elected by the population deputies, to the Parliament.” “It is an important government institution in the country, and it should have its own house, its parliamentary centre,” Matviyenko stressed.
President Medvedev this summer suggested to enlarge the area of the City of Moscow and to move some offices of bodies of power out of Moscow, which will help to relieve the problems of Russia’s largest megalopolis.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that the transfer of government offices meant that Moscow would soon have a satellite city that will unite such offices and all supporting infrastructure. The mayor opposed the idea of spreading the government bodies over the territory of the Moscow Region and stressed that concentrating them in a single place could give a better boost to the development of the region. “In essence, this means the creation of a modern satellite city within Moscow boundaries,” Sobyanin said.
The mayor also stressed that so far the merger of the City of Moscow and the Moscow Region was not on the agenda. He said that the question was only in moving government offices beyond the Moscow Ring Road and, for this purpose, enlarging the city limits. Sobyanin said that no referendum was planned on the subject – only an analysis of opinions both of ordinary residents and civil servants.
The Moscow City Legislature has also supported the creation of the new, larger capital district.
Deputy Head of Staff of the State Duma Yuri Shuvalov said that a special complex that would house the upper and lower houses of the Russian parliament will be built beyond the Moscow Ring Road within the next five years. He added that the construction would need additional investment, but the result would justify the costs.
Medvedev’s idea drew positive comments even from members of parliamentary opposition. The chairman of the Fair Russia political party said that moving the government offices would allow civil servants to better understand the needs of the common people and common people would feel more sympathy for those who voluntary go to a remote region to work. The head of the Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, also supported the move and urged that a special law be adopted as soon as possible, with a federal minister put in charge of the new federal district instead of the regional governor or the city’s mayor.