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Russian parliament marks 20 years

December 12, 2013, 1:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, December 12, (ITAR-TASS). Russia’s parliament, the Federal Assembly, has marked the 20th anniversary.

The Constitution, which was adopted at the referendum on December 12, 1993, approved a two-house structure, a status, the formation and powers of both houses of the parliament - the State Duma, the lower house, and the Federation Council, the upper house. In parallel the first State Duma elections took place on December 12, 1993.

By having analysed the path, law scholars, specialists and experts believe that the parliament established itself and became an inalienable part of the Russian state and society. Speaking at a solemn meeting on December 9, head of the Russian Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin said, “There is no Russia without the Constitution and there is no parliament without the Constitution.”

Replying to critics, who called into question lawmakers’ legitimacy after the 2011 elections, State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin said the dramatic events of the 20th century “resulted in irreconcilable confrontation and chaos”.

The parliament went through a serious test in the past 20 years. The principles for forming the houses of the Federation Assembly were being changed. Its competence and powers were being specified.

The parliament has adopted about 5,000 laws since 1993 and over 20,000 initiatives have been put forth. Lawmakers themselves say that Russia’s legal system is based on the Constitution.

The society changed its attitude towards the law. The society respects the Constitution as the Fundamental Law and as the national purpose. The Constitution “contains all basis elements of national purpose”. Its preamble has “a clear fundamental system of moral values of multinational people”, Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko said.

“The Constitution itself should be interpreted as an idea - the national purpose, which unites everyone, who wants and is ready to achieve a success for our country,” Naryshkin said.

The society’s attitude towards the parliament is rather important. In December 2006 33 percent of respondents positively interpret the activity of senators while 40 percent of respondents consider it negative. As for lawmakers, the ratio is more modest - 29 percent of respondents positively interpret deputies’ activities while 57 percent consider them negative. Seven years later experts say 34 percent of respondents approve the activity of the Federation Council and 35 percent approve the work of the State Duma while 37 percent and 48 percent of respondents come against respectively.

It is not incidental that the authority of the parliament is one of the priorities. The Day of Russian Parliamentarism is marked this year. “It is designed to become a nationwide holiday,” Matviyenko said.

“This is a good motive to think what path we went through and what should be done to increase the influence of our parliament and its impact on the development of country,” the Federation Council speaker said.

Naryshkin has put forth an initiative to approve a separate law on the Federal Assembly, which “will be a key step towards regulating the work of the parliament related to a reasonable balance of separation of power”.

Both houses of the parliament use high tech. The upper house has launched a new website with special versions - mobile and a visually versions. Users can express their point of view and provide feedback. The State Duma is carrying out a “E-parliament” project: the lower house is planning to put a portal, which is designed to unite a kind of social network of federal, regional and municipal parliamentarians.

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