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The deadlines for the approval of a controversial bill on a reform of the Russian Academy of Sciences are speeded up

July 04, 2013, 11:56 UTC+3

The bill contains some issues that can be supported and some disputable issues, the President acknowledged, but refused to delay it

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On Wednesday, the State Duma approved the first reading of the bill, which the government proposed for the reorganizing of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), thanks to the votes from the factions United Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). The question over the need for an accelerated reform that remained undecided a day before the voting was settled by President Vladimir Putin, who stated that it is impossible to postpone the consideration of the bill to autumn. The president met with RAS President-Elect Vladimir Fortov before the voting and discussed the bill with him. The second reading of the bill is scheduled for Friday.

Fortov asked for a meeting with the president after an extraordinary meeting of the RAS presidium, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported. The participants in the meeting came out against the governmental bill over the RAS reform - they insist on broad debates with the public. The bill contains some issues that can be supported and some disputable issues, the President acknowledged, but refused to delay it. “Let’s delay it to autumn...and before this let’s form a conciliatory committee,” Fortov asked. “This would have been possible, if the government had not submitted the bill in the parliament,” Putin explained. “Sometimes it is better to adopt, finalize a decision than go round in circles,” he noted.

Putin proposed to Fortov to head the renovated Academy of Sciences and the RAS property management agency, which is planned to form under the new law, the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily reported. “We should conduct an audit, how the RAS property was managed, what problems exist and how to build the whole enormous mechanism,” the president added. Putin asked whether Fortov is ready to head a new agency? The RAS president-elect did not give a final answer to this. After the meeting Fortov told reporters that Putin promised to ponder over his proposal for the reform of the academy.

On Wednesday, the State Duma approved the first reading of the bill on the RAS reform and minimized the deadlines for adopting the amendments to the bill, the Vedomosti daily reported. Despite the pledge of State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin the second reading of the bill will be put up for voting on July 5, but not in autumn, “after a serious discussion.” The Communist faction left the session hall of the State Duma as the sign of protest and promised not to return before the end of the session on July 5. “When there is the second reading, there is the third reading as well, we know it for sure,” deputy Anatoly Lokot explained the Communist decision. The probability for the approval of the bill in the third reading on Friday exists, a Kremlin official confirmed. The third reading will be held in autumn, chairman of the United Russia faction Vladimir Vasilyev pledged.

United Russia deputy from the State Duma property committee Alexander Iltyakov has moved in an amendment over the postponement to cut the deadline for making amendments from September 30 to July 4. The cutting of the deadlines “will allow passing quicker from the words to the deeds,” he stated at the meeting. Iltyakov’s amendment timed to coincide with the news report about the results of the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and RAS President-Elect Vladimir Fortov, after which the State Duma has issued a statement of the latter that he does not oppose it, if the bill is endorsed in the third reading in autumn.

The group of the United Russia faction is working over the amendments to the bill, they are coordinating the amendments with the RAS academicians, the Kremlin and the government, Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Education Vyacheslav Nikonov said. By Wednesday, 30 amendments were moved in, some of them were already coordinated, particularly the words for the RAS liquidation were dropped, Nikonov said. The provision over the stripping of the rank of academician will be changed - all factions moved in this amendment and the government will support it, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets said at a meeting of the State Duma.

Before the second reading the United Russia faction also intends to amend the provisions over the organizational and legal type of a future united academy, the procedure for the merger of the academies and the awarding of the title of academician in the common academy and to describe the procedure of cooperation between the academy of the agency, which will manage its property.

The haste with the second reading is caused by the intention to introduce quicker the amendments in the bill that will make the debates less heated, deputy chairman of the United Russia faction Nikolai Bulayev, who is cited by the Vedomosti daily, explained.

The Kommersant daily recalled that in the State Duma practice the first reading is decisive, when the concept of the bill is approved, as well as the second reading, when substantial amendments can be still introduced in the bill. Only legal and technical finalizing is possible by the third reading. According to the proposed procedure a complicated procedure for the return of the bill for the second reading will have to be held to introduce essential amendments.

On Wednesday evening, the State Duma majority has taken the decision to accelerate the legislative process, despite harsh statements of the opposition that this discredits the whole parliament, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. The newspaper reported that no one from the ruling party opposed the instruction from the top authorities (the presidential structures). Even co-chairman of the People’s Front Stanislav Govorukhin, to whom the oppositionists appealed several times on Wednesday, did not say anything in public. Although, he pledged in the lobbies of the State Duma that he will be against the governmental initiative and said that Academician Yevgeny Primakov also takes it negatively.

The day ended with the walkout of the Communist faction from the session hall and accelerated preparations to the non-confidence vote to the government by the Communists. The voting on the non-confidence move will obviously be held next week, but not in autumn, the newspaper noted.

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