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Upper house approves constitutional amendments on president-appointed 17 senators

May 28, 2014, 13:16 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Prominent public figures, former prime ministers, ministers and lawmakers can be named as “presidential” senators

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Russia's Federation Council

Russia's Federation Council

© ITAR-TASS/Anton Novoderezhkin

MOSCOW, May 28. /ITAR-TASS/. The Federation Council upper house of parliament has approved amendments in the country’s Constitution permitting the president to issue a decree appointing up to ten percent of all members of the upper house.

137 Russian senators with 128 required votes supported the law and six senators abstained from voting.

According to the constitutional amendments, the Federation Council composition is enlarged thanks to representatives not only from the regions, but also from the federal center. Thus, the president is empowered to delegate 17 senators who are Russian representatives in the upper house. “Fulfillment of the initiative provides additional conditions to attain balance of powers and legitimate interests of Russia and its constituent entities that is one of the main goals of the Federation Council activity as a Russian constitutional body designed to reflect the country’s federal state system,” the explanatory note to the document reads.

Prominent public figures, for instance, those who had worked for their whole term set in the law and had already become former prime ministers, ministers and lawmakers can be named as “presidential” senators. “But I would not like actors and athletes who ended their professional careers to be named as senators,” an author of the initiative noted.

The law stipulates that the head of state during his first presidential term cannot strip of powers a senator who is a Russian representative appointed before the incumbent president took office, i.e. by the previous Russian president.

At the same time the Russian Constitution directly fixes the provision in effect in the law on Federation Council formation that a senator is vested with his powers for the term of that regional body of state power which delegated him in the upper house of Russian parliament.

This novelty seeks for a stronger role of the upper house in relations with executive authorities, Chairman of the Federation Council committee for constitutional legislation and state construction Andrei Klishas said. “The Russian president is not included in the executive branch of power, at the same time he acts as a guarantor of the Constitution, therefore, appointment of new members of the Federation Council by the president meets fully one of basic constitutional principles - division of powers,” he noted. Meanwhile, senators appointed by the president will enjoy the same rights and status as other members of the upper house, the committee chairman noted.

According to the law, after Federation Council’s approval of an amendment in the Russian Constitution legislative assemblies of no less than two thirds of Russian constituent entities (at least 55 entities) should endorse it and are given a year for this. Upon the end of this procedure Russian senators will debate the law on this amendment again. Then seven days will be given for a possible appeal of the law in the Constitutional Court. If no appeals are lodged the document will be submitted to the Russian president for signing.

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