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MOSCOW, August 16 (Itar-Tass) — President Putin has declared that he considers ombudsmen to be his allies and suggested making an institution of an ombudsman compulsory for every region in Russia.
"Your work as the work of absolutely independent people is unquestionably of very big importance. I think you are my direct allies in the work for the defense of the interests and legitimate rights of citizens, which is the most important part of my work, the essence and goal of all of my activities," Putin declared at a meeting with regional ombudsmen on Thursday.
Now, an institution of ombudsmen exists in 67 out of 83 members of the Russian Federation. " It means that for some reason these institutions have not been created on certain territories. I do not want to accuse anyone, but some regions seem reluctant to have such institutions which are independent of the regional authorities and are actually independent of anyone," Putin said.
"I share the opinion of my colleagues, who, formulating proposals to improve a legal basis of such institutions, point out that ombudsmen should not be linked to any political party or be involved in political activities and that their work should be taken beyond the framework of a political process and be free of possible personal PR effect," the president said.
Putin suggested discussing problems of legislative promotion of an ombudsman's work. "Today, we may suggest a legislative initiative to the State Duma and specify the norms ( for the establishment of an institution of an ombudsman) compulsory for every region of the Russian Federation," Putin said.
On June 26 President Putin said at meeting with Russian ombudsman Vladimir Lukin that he intended to conduct a conference on this problem. For his part, Lukin told the president that the work on the organization of an institution of an ombudsman in regions had been going on in recent years. Earlier, there were only four ombudsmen in Russia, while at present their number is 67, Lukin said.
But the law on an institution of an ombudsman spells out that an institution of an ombudsman is an independent structure; consequently, regions might either establish or not establish it on their own choice, Lukin added. " I think that an impetus given by the president urging to complete this process would be a correct thing to do," Lukin said.