MOSCOW, April 16, /ITAR-TASS/. The upper house of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council, on Wednesday approved a draft law expanding the country’s Public Chamber by including representatives of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol - former Ukrainian regions that recently joined Russia.
The document envisions an increase in the number of representatives of regional public chambers in Russia’s Public Chamber from 83 to 85 people, making the total number of the Public Chamber members 168.
As a result, “the public chambers of the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol will be guaranteed an opportunity to include their representatives in the composition of the Russian Public Chamber”.
According to accompanying documents, “the law aims to ensure equality of all Russian constituent members in the opportunity to have their representatives in the Russian Public Chamber, as well as to integrate the new Russian constituent members into the legal system of the state”.
A law on new rules of Public Chamber formation was adopted in July 2013. In line with it, the chamber should include 166 representatives. Out of them, 40 are appointed by the Russian president after consultations with public associations, associations of nonprofit organizations, Russian academies of sciences and artistic unions.
Another 83 candidates are delegated by regional public chambers, and 43 are chosen by public organizations as a result of an internet vote on the basis of a competitive selection on 14 areas of public activity. The vote is conducted on the Russian Public Initiative website. Russian nationals who have the right to vote are entitled to take part.
The new composition of the Public Chamber will be formed by summer.
The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, signed reunification deals with Russia on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.
The developments came after a coup in Ukraine in February, and were caused by Crimea’s refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities.
Work to integrate the Crimean Peninsula into Russia’s economic, financial, credit, legal, state power, military conscription and infrastructure systems is actively underway now that Crimea has become part of Russia.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when it was gifted to Ukraine by Soviet Communist Party leader Nikita Khrushchev.