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MOSCOW, September 18 (Itar-Tass) — A special website, kumovstvu.net, invites Internet users to join the discussion of the bill against nepotism at the both chambers of the Russian parliament, deputy secretary of the General Council of United Russia Party, head of the State Duma committee on labor and welfare policy Andrei Isayev said on Tuesday.
Isayev is the author of the bill.
He was clearly pleased with the results of a VTSIOM public opinion poll, according to which a majority of Russians support the anti-nepotism idea: "we're happy that an overwhelming majority of our citizens support my initiative, as do a number of other State Duma deputies."
"It's a sensitive talk: we assumed that we had to start with ourselves for ethical reasons: from State Duma lawmakers and Federation Council members," Isayev said.
He reminded that there is a proposal to apply the bill to deputies of regional legislative assemblies if they have permanent jobs or have been elected on Party lists. "Of course, if close relatives have been elected in single constituencies, nobody can bring forward claims, because the people's right to elect those whom they believe are needed has priority.
"But when it comes to drawing party lists we insist that parties compose them in such a manner so that relatives are not at the same government body," Isayev said.
"This does not imply a ban on profession, because politics is not reduced to posts at the State Duma or the Federation Council. One of the relatives can work at the State Duma, and another at a legislative assembly, be a governor, or have a government or political party job. The law does not rule it out. Yet relatives should not work at the same government body," he underlined.
Deputy director of the center for political environment Alexei Zudin believes that the publication of the VTSIOM opinion poll results change the situation dramatically. After the initiative was brought forward, "influential persons, in particular the speakers of both houses of the parliament and head of the United Russia faction at the State Duma put in doubt the prospects for this bill."
"Before the opinion poll results were published, the bill had modest prospects, but the situation has now changed," he told Itar-Tass. He noted that the State Duma would have to adopt such a law. "In actual fact, it found itself in a no alternative situation. A public demand for eliminating this practice is on hand, and it is strong. Two-thirds of the respondents said they were opposed to clanism not only at the Sate Duma but also in the executive branch of power," the expert said.
Earlier, State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin objected to the bill: "excessive suspicion of certain categories of citizens is inappropriate for the legislator, when it is proposed to restrict their rights "just in case," as they say," Naryshkin said at the first plenary session of the State Duma this autumn.
"They do not take into account the nature of the legislative branch, when voicing the idea to restrict participation in it by the sign of kinship," the speaker said, "I will underline: we should not forget about the equality of citizens' rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution."
Isayev's amendment states that a citizen cannot be a Federation Council member or a State Duma deputy if case of close kinship /parents, spouses, children, siblings, as well as siblings, parents, spouses' children and children's spouses) to other representatives of upper or lower chambers of the parliament.
In case the law is approved, the MPs that fall under its operation should step down within a month.
Isayev called for making the law effective from January 1, 2013.
If two relatives work in parliament, it will be sufficient for one of them to resign. As for the sanctions for violations, under the effective Article 4 of the law on the status, the violators lose their mandate.
"I'm introducing amendments to article 1 /of the law/," Isayev said in an interview to Tass, adding that the law would keep Article 4.
He voiced the initiative at a news conference on September 3.
"Today, there exist employment restrictions for relatives in civil service; the law prohibits close relatives to work at a government bodies; the same restrictions apply to judges and prosecutors. I believe we have to rectify the situation, as the ban does not cover the State Duma deputies or Federation Council members," he stated, "in the State Duma, one of the four parties has turned into a clannish company; there are several families and clans there. It does not look quite ethical."
Isayev obviously referred to A Just Russia faction.
However, a number of politicians criticized the initiative. Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko noted that the issue was not that pressing, in her opinion. “I believe we have many more topical themes and problems we all have to work at," she told reporters.
"It's possible to pass this law but I don't know if it’s that pressing and should have priority compared with other bills the parliament has to review," Matviyenko said.