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MOSCOW, January 23 (Itar-Tass) — Members of the State Duma lower house of Russia’s parliament at a plenary meeting on Wednesday will hear a report of Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova who is invited to the Government Hour of questions and answers. “A large number of written questions” have been sent to the health minister, “but certainly very many questions will be asked in the hall,” speaker of the lower house of parliament, Sergei Naryshkin told journalist earlier.
“The lawmakers are wondering about the progress of the regional healthcare system modernisation, how citizens and medical establishments are provided with medicaments,” he said. “In addition, the new Law “On Healthcare” is in effect for more than a year already, it is possible to summarise certain results,” the State Duma speaker said.
The high-profile bill according to which RF regions will be able to independently determine the procedure for electing governors will be discussed in the first reading on Wednesday. One of the authors of the bill, first deputy chairman of the Duma Committee on Nationalities Mikhail Starshinov (United Russia) explained that the amendments are designed to take into account the diversity of Russia’s regions and set “the possibility for a subject of the Russian Federation to determine by law its own order of the election of its top official” that differs from the general. The bill is also aimed at ensuring sustainable socio-economic development of the RF subjects and preservation of interethnic peace and accord, Starshinov stressed.
In particular, according to the bill, a regional head “can be elected by deputies of the legislative (representative) body of state authority of a subject of the Russian Federation.” If the bill is adopted, the candidates for the posts of highest officials of the RF subjects will be nominated by the Russian President on recommendation of political parties, represented in the State Duma or the Legislative Assembly of the corresponding region. “These political parties will present to the Russian President at least three candidatures,” the explanatory note says. “And before the presentation of the candidatures they must hold consultations on them with political parties that do not have this right, but have their regional offices in the corresponding subject of the Russian Federation.”
Starshinov also clarified that a political party has the right to present to the President for nomination as a candidate for the regional head post both citizens who are members of the party and individuals who are members of other parties or not members of any party. Then the president will be able to choose three of the presented candidatures and nominate them for the post of the highest official of an RF subject to be elected by deputies of the Legislative Assembly.
“As an author I very much hope that it will be adopted quickly – within the timeframe to apply it the coming election cycle,” said the first deputy chairman of the State Duma. “It is supposed that those Russian Federation subjects that wish to change the order of the election of their top official will have the time to pass the relevant law,” Starshinov said. “Therefore, if the State Duma passes this document in 1.5 or two months, and then the Federation Council and the RF President promptly consider it, then by the end of the spring session the regional parliaments will also be able to approve their normative acts. Thus, there is every reason to believe that the law will come into force by the single voting day in September this year,” said the lawmaker.
The State Duma members know the “arguments of the critics of the bill” and are ready to debate, United Russia member Igor Igoshin confirmed for his part. These arguments are “in fact linked not with its concept, but only with the apprehensions that with this right appearance there will also be abuse,” he said.
“However, abuse may be associated with any human right without exception. They always exist,” said Igoshin. “But we, nevertheless, do not cross out of the Constitution the Rights and Freedoms chapter. We do not cross it out, because we understand: it is necessary to fight the abuse, and not the rights themselves. It is necessary to secure and protect rights,” he stressed. “This fully applies to the pending bill,” concluded the MP.
On Wednesday, the Duma will also in the first reading consider the government-sponsored bill aimed at the prevention of child trafficking, exploitation, child prostitution, as well as activities related to the production and distribution of materials or items with pornographic images of minors. If the bill is adopted, new elements of offense will be added to the RF Administrative Offence Code – “the creation by a legal entity of conditions for trafficking or exploitation of children” and “making by a legal entity of materials or items with pornographic images of minors and their turnover.” The fines for these offenses will be, respectively, from 800 thousand to 1 million roubles, from 200 thousand to 500 thousand roubles, and from 50 thousand to 300 thousand roubles.