MOSCOW, January 24 (Itar-Tass) — The State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the 1st reading of the bill which gives the regions the right to decide on the gubernatorial election procedure. The authors of the initiative were representatives of all the four factions. The house voted 403-10 to support the document.
First deputy chairman of the house committee for nationalities Mikhail Starshinov /United Russia faction/, who co-authored the bill, said it takes into account Russia's "regional diversity" and provides the "opportunity for a province to establish other procedure to elect top government official of that province, that differs from the universal procedure." The project is also aimed at ensuring stable socio-economic development of Russian regions and maintaining ethnic peace and accord, he underlined.
For example, the document provides for deputies of the regional legislative body to elect the governor. In this case, the candidates for the post will be nominated by the Russian president upon presentation by the political parties represented at the State Duma or the legislative assembly of a given region.
"The designated political parties present at least three candidates to the president. Prior to the presentation, they have to hold consultations over the candidates with the political parties that have no nomination rights, if these parties have local branches in the region.
A political party has the right to nominate for governor its member, a member of other party or non-partisan citizens. The president then can select three candidates from the list and nominate them for election by regional legislators. "The election of top regional officials is held under the procedure set by the law of a given Russian region," the explanatory note to the bill said.
This bill allows for realizing the principle of federalism set forth in the Constitution of the Russian state," Starshinov told reporters on Wednesday.
He added that he did not care for the opinion polls in order to find out which regions would adopt the norm and which would not. "Our regions will decide it by themselves," he said.
"Much is said about the need for decentralization; and so this legislation passes from words to deeds. "All bread is not baked in one oven. You don't want to underestimate the huge potential of our regions. Clever and wise people work and live there. I'm confident they'll make a balanced and well-considered decision on whether they should apply the law on not.
"These amendments balance our political system because such a huge country as this, with its ethnic and religious diversity, needs stability. In this connection, I fully support President Vladimir Putin's position that decision-making needs succession. If we wish stable and harmonious development, we should take into account the sentiment in various regions, and use the advantages given by our federative system," Starshinov said.
For his part, head of the house committee for constitutional legislation and state development Vladimir Pligin /United Russia/ expressed the hope that the amendments "would contribute to the preservation of peace in the conditions of very complicated events. "I underline once again that the bill fixes the Russian regions' right, not their duty. This practice will depend on which Russian regions will use it," Pligin said.
On December 13, President Vladimir Putin said he believed it possible to give the Russian regions the right to decide on the governor election procedure on their own.