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Dmitry Medvedev sets date of parliamentary elections

August 30, 2011, 12:32 UTC+3
The president expressed a wish that the new parliament composition should reflect to the greatest extent possible political preferences of the broadest range of citizens
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MOSCOW, August 30 (Itar-Tass) —   President Dmitry Medvedev met leaders of registered political parties in Sochi on Monday. The head of state set a date for the general elections – December 4, 2011. The president expressed a wish that the new parliament composition should reflect to the greatest extent possible political preferences of the broadest range of citizens.

The president held the meeting with the leaders of parties, irrespective of their representation at the State Duma, notes Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Each guest had five minutes for a talk with the head of state. Medvedev said that nationalist and extremist actions during the election campaign are inadmissible and demanded precluding attempts at kindling nationalist strife and calls for illegal actions: “Such attempts and calls will be resolutely cut short, while people, committing such actions, will be punished.”

RBK Daily notes that Medvedev invited to his meeting the last time such modest parties as Patriots of Russia, Yabloko and Right Cause (without Prokhorov at the time) in 2010, specially organising for them the state council on the development of the political system. Until now, parties that were outside the legislature, either expressed their ideas at unauthorised  rallies, or did not manifest themselves at all. It became evident on Monday that it was decided to elevate substantially the status of non-parliamentary parties. For instance, following the meeting with the president, Right Cause leader Mikhail Prokhorov, “a greenhorn” in political affairs, was the first to speak with reporters rather than head of the United Russia supreme council Boris Gryzlov (as it was customary).

Kommersant reckons that the most important statement by Medvedev was addressed not so much to politicians, present at the meeting, as to off-system opponents who will never sit with the president at the same table. “Two things are equally unacceptable for us: this is administrative arbitrary actions by bureaucrats who try to exploit elections in their own interests and groundless accusations of falsification which are often made by those who lost. Both things are manifestations of notorious nihilism. One should be able to win honestly, and one should be able to lose. This is the way things are,” the president said.

Novye Izvestia writes that following the meeting with the president, Prokhorov told reporters that he suggested Medvedev limiting representation of one party in parliament to no more than 226 seats. This idea was backed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky who added that each party should be represented at the State Duma within 20-25 percent.

Speaking in an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, deputy director of the Centre of Political Technologies Alexei Markin said: “Medvedev wanted to stress at the meeting that he is the president of all Russians. Even those who back the opposition to which he signalled: it will be treated normally at the coming elections.” Makarkin added: “The meeting for Medvedev was a demonstration that he claims the role of an arbiter in the political process. He distanced himself away from any political force, stressing the difference from Vladimir Putin who is likely to head election lists of the United Russia Party.

Moskovsky Komsomolets notes that changes were earlier made in election legislation. For instance the lower chamber of parliament will be elected for the first time not for four years, but for five. Non-parliamentary parties are to collect not 200,000, but 150,000 signatures to participate in elections. A political force which will collect five percent by election results, will win one parliamentary seat, six percent – two seats (these seats were already christened “folding chairs”).

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