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MOSCOW, January 10 (Itar-Tass) — The State Duma lower house of Russia’s parliament is ready to study public policy initiatives that have collected 100 thousand signatures, but the mechanism for their consideration is yet to be developed, deputy speaker of the lower house, Secretary of the General Council of the United Russia party Sergei Neverov confirmed to Itar-Tass, commenting on the collection by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper of signatures for the Duma dissolution.
He recalled that “it was the initiative of Vladimir Putin who said that the State Duma should consider the applications, which collect 100 thousand signatures of citizens.” “This suggests that the State Duma will consider such applications,” he confirmed.
At the same time, the politician stated that “it’s not difficult to collect one hundred thousand signatures because there are those who did not vote for the current State Duma deputies, those political parties that are represented in it.” “You have to remember that more than 60 million citizens voted for the current State Duma,” said Neverov.
The parliamentarian refused to predict the timeframe of the adoption of the bill, which would fix the mechanism of the consideration by the lower house of citizens’ appeals. “The parliament’s procedural rules committee is currently developing the norms according to which it will be possible to consider these 100 thousand signatures,” he explained. “If the accuracy of these signatures is verified, the procedural rules committee will make (proposals) at the Duma Council (that determines its agenda) and the related decision will be considered,” suggested the United Russia member.
In February 2012, Vladimir Putin in an article in the Kommersant newspaper suggested “to introduce the rule of mandatory consideration in the parliament of those social initiatives, which collect more than 100 thousand signatures in the Internet.” He recalled that a similar practice exists, for example, in the UK. “Of course, the anonymous Internet is not suitable for this - although in other cases it helps to find out the mood of the society. It will be necessary to develop a procedure for the official registration of those who want to become participants in such system,” said Putin.
In December, at the traditional big press conference of President Putin, correspondent of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper Diana Khachatryan said that over a few days journalists on the website of the newspaper gathered more than 100 thousand signatures against the parliamentary initiative to ban adoptions of Russian children by Americans. “I believe that this should be considered by the State Duma,” Putin said.
The MPs confirmed that they are ready to study the appeals of citizens, recognising at the same time that the form of the possible response to them is unclear. The head of the relevant committee on constitutional legislation and state building, Vladimir Pligin (United Russia), explained that the committee is to inform the State Duma about the prospects and future of this initiative at one of the first meetings of the lower house in January. “The committee will, first of all, work out a formula of this report, as well as make its assessment of the citizens’ proposal,” he explained. Pligin also noted that the State Duma members have a major respect for public opinion, but are for the first time facing this form of its expression. According to the lawmaker, a special procedural rule of the parliamentary response to the citizens’ appeal does not exist so far.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Novaya Gazeta collected 100 thousand signatures under another initiative – for the dissolution of the Duma. However, there have been no reports so far on the signatures’ passing to the lower house of parliament.
Situations in which the State Duma may be dissolved are exclusive and they are clearly spelled out in the RF Constitution. It can be dissolved by the head of state if the Duma three times rejects the candidacy of the Prime Minister or if the second non-confidence vote in the government is made within three months.