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RF president calls for renewal of political system, ruling party

December 19, 2011, 15:41 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

Dmitry Medvedev who headed the United Russia party’s list at the December 4 parliamentary elections has stated that Russia needs a new political system, as the current one has already exhausted itself. And it is the ruling party that should be the first to recognise the need for change. Medvedev also urged the party to renew itself. Meanwhile, the renewal begins from the parliament the leadership of which is changing cardinally: it will have a new speaker and first vice speaker, as well as 12 new chairs of the State Duma committees 15 of which went to United Russia.
“We will not only have a more complex parliament, we will apparently have a new stage of the political system development, and we should not turn a blind eye to this, it has already begun,” the RF head of state said on Saturday at a meeting with United Russia activists. “And it has begun not as a result of some rallies, this is only external froth or manifestation of human discontent. But it has begun because the old model that has faithfully served our state in recent years, served well, and we have all defended it, has largely exhausted itself.”
He added that it is the ruling party that should become the first to recognise the need for change.
Medvedev said that the idea to return to the direct gubernatorial elections recently voiced by presidential candidate Vladimir Putin is one of the steps towards renewal of the country’s political system. However, it suggests a “presidential filter,” that is, the population will vote for the candidatures presented by parties winning in regions and approved by the president. “It is one of such steps,” the president said. “More steps will follow, we will propose them by all means.”
He decided to begin strengthening the ranks of United Russia with the party leadership. “Not a single leader who was standing in elections on party lists should abandon the party, this is unacceptable,” Dmitry Medvedev said. United Russia members should share not only all views of the party, but also all its political risks.
Meanwhile, neither the founder and leader of the party Vladimir Putin nor Dmitry Medvedev are United Russia members to this day. Medvedev’s press secretary Natalya Timakova later said that he does not plan to join any party during his presidential term of office.
Dmitry Medvedev said that the party’s renewal is one of the most important tasks. “We need new ideas and we need new names, and we must be open for cooperation with all forces,” he explained.
Secretary of the presidium of the party’s General Council Sergei Neverov offered a package of proposals for the party reform. It boils down to personnel reshuffles, as a matter of priority, in the regions where United Russia has failed to win serious support.
Meanwhile, renewal has started at the State Duma. Long-standing lower house chairman Boris Gryzlov who acquired notoriety for his phrase: “the parliament is not a place for discussions,” has surrendered his deputy mandate. The opposition interpreted his resignation as a concession by the authorities following the citizens’ mass protest actions, because United Russia members have recently said that they did not want to replace Gryzlov.
A meeting of the party’s General Council unanimously supported candidature of the chief of the presidential administration, Sergei Naryshkin, for the post of the lower house speaker, and candidature of Alexander Zhukov – for the post of first vice speaker. The General Council also proposed to nominate the candidature of head of the party’s Central Executive Committee Andrei Vorobyov for the post of leader of the United Russia faction in the Duma, deputy chairman of the parliament. Also, Oleg Morozov, former deputy mayor of Moscow Lyudmila Shvetsova and Sergei Neverov have been proposed for the posts of vice speakers from the party.
United Russia intends to cardinally change the leadership of the sixth State Duma. As a party having the parliamentary majority it proposed a structure of 29 committees: 15 committees for United Russia, and 14 committees for the opposition parties (Communist Party - six committees, and the Just Russia and Liberal Democratic Party - four committees each).
New people are recommended as chairs of 12 Duma’s committees 15 of which were given to United Russia. According to the trend set by Vladimir Putin, more well-known people will become heads of the sixth Duma’s committees. Film director Stanislav Govorukhin will chair the committee for culture, host of the Spravedlivost (Justice) program on REN TV television Andrei Makarov will chair the committee for budget and taxes. The main surprise was the candidature of the host of the Post Scriptum TV program, Alexei Pushkov, who will replace experienced politician Konstantin Kosachev on the post of chair of the international affairs committee. The financial markets committee will most likely be chaired by Natalya Burykina who has worked in the budget and taxes committee and who this year has been recognised as the wealthiest woman parliamentarian. Her declared income in 2010 reached 26.5 million roubles.
Initially, the presidential administration was drafting proposals for the distribution of the committees together with the party, but the government has seized the initiative, according to a high-ranking United Russia member who was quoted by the Vedomosti newspaper. The prime minister as the party leader insisted on more radical renewal of the State Duma leadership and inclusion in it of activists of the All-Russia Popular Front (ONF) – Pushkov, non-partisan Shvetsova, Govorukhin are obviously positioned as ONF members. Staff renewal is the main demand of the society and slogan of Putin’s presidential campaign, he says.
The former heads of the committees and the Duma were rather representatives of the lobby groups, and now they are more partisan people, although certain decisions cause surprise, the publication quoted political analyst Yevgeny Minchenko as saying. At the same time he regards the Naryshkin – Zhukov – Vorobyov “troika” as rather strong.
In the view of some experts, all these reforms and appointments will not help the party to become more popular. “This is a desperate tumbling about in a water reservoir that already has no bottom,” political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin told the Novye Izvestiya newspaper. The party bosses will not bring more votes than non-partisan. There is a situation at present in which it is impossible to rise above a certain popularity level, so new stimulation methods are needed.”


MOSCOW, December 19