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The State Duma is no hurry to take into consideration the opinion of 100,000 citizens

January 15, 2013, 11:01 UTC+3
In 2012 Vladimir Putin suggested in an election campaign article "introducing mandatory review of public initiatives that gather 100,000 or more signatures in their support"
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The committee for constitutional legislation and state development under the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament discussed the petition calling for cancelling the ban on the adoption of Russian children by foreigners. The petition was passed to the lower house by the newspaper Novaya Gazeta in December. The collective message by 100,000 Russians was left without any comments, because "there is no legal ground" for turning this document into a lawbill. Also, the deputies questioned the authenticity of signatures gathered in support of the bid to annul the so-called Dima Yakovlev law.

"We'll report at a Duma Council session that the petition by 100,000 citizens has been considered at the committee's meeting. The lower house leadership then will decide what to do with the document and whether it should be considered at a plenary session," the Novye Izvestia quoted chairman of the committee Vladimir Pligin as saying, "this is all we can do now in accordance with the State Duma procedures and the Constitution."

When a journalist asked why "the State Duma spurned the opinion of so many citizens," the committee chairman noted that he disagreed with the wording of the question, underlining that lawmakers "paid attention to the issue and held a discussion within the framework of the authority established by the Russian Constitution and parliament procedures."

Committee members said a special website would appear on the Internet in April where everybody would be able to compose a petition of his own, and all the interested persons would be able to put their signatures to support such petitions. A mechanism to tally virtual votes and real people will be used.

But lawmakers from A Just Russia Party Ilya Ponomaryov and Dmitry Gudkov do not intend to keep the citizens' petition on the back burner for long, the Novye Izvestia underlined. They intend to submit a bill later on Tuesday which cancels the adoption ban on the strength of the citizens' signatures, collected on the Novaya Gazeta website.

"When it became clear that United Russia wanted to downplay this theme under such a formal principle, i.e. the State Duma had to review and sort of reviewed the citizens' petition, I said we'll draw this initiative to cancel the adoption amendment on behalf of deputies," Ilya Ponomaryov told new newspaper, "I also asked the committee to give priority to this legislation. Everybody understands that we simply draw the initiative of citizens who cannot bring forward legislative initiatives. Regrettably, the committee refused to do it for formal reasons again, saying you haven't brought forward anything yet, and that there is nothing to review from the legal point of view."

After the meeting of the committee, editor-in-chief of the Novaya Gazeta Dmitry Muratov noted that the newspaper had already gathered 120,000 signatures for the dissolution of this parliament, and that a referendum might be the next move. "We won't pass these signatures to the State Duma anymore, because it does not make sense. The signatures we've collected show that the society wants active participation in political life. I came for the committee's meeting not because of respect for State Duma lawmakers, but because of respect for our newspaper's readers," Muratov said.

The Kommersant reminds that in February 2012, Vladimir Putin suggested in an election campaign article "introducing mandatory review of public initiatives that gather 100,000 or more signatures in their support on the Internet." However, the status of presidential initiative remains unclear up to date.

"Putin's promise was well-considered: these initiatives will be considered. But nothing was said about where or in what format they might be reviewed. Also, considering does not necessarily mean approval," the newspaper cites political analyst Alexei Makarkin as saying, "I believe the authorities did expect citizens to start gathering signatures, but they did not expect them to collect them so quickly and on such issues that are not very advantageous to the authorities. I believe the authorities might meet people half-way in some issues, but not political ones."


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