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On political results of the year

December 27, 2013, 14:10 UTC+3
The Kommersant daily’s article headlined “The authorities start bringing surprises in 2013” sums up political results of the year
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MOSCOW, December 27. /ITAR-TASS World Service/. The Kommersant daily’s article headlined “The authorities start bringing surprises in 2013” sums up political results of the year.

Habitual notions of the way politics are organized have been constantly revised by practice throughout the year. Maybe a new political model is being formed that will differ from the previous one not just in its form but in its contents, the Kommersant asks.

First deputy head of the presidential administration Vyacheslav Volodin gives a lift in his car to the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, taking her to the Sakharov Centre. Routine politeness looks a political sensation not least because throughout the year the authorities have been putting pressure on nongovernmental organizations (NGO). While the news that some of NGO’s that don’t suit the authorities are getting state grants absolutely breaks the stereotype.

In late December, Mikhail Khodorkovsky is freed, after early in December the third YUKOS case was almost a settled matter. Khodorkovsky is pardoned personally by President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, this year has seen already two amnesties, maybe for the first time in the world practice (both submitted by the president, also for the first time). The first economic amnesty, that involved less than 2,000 people was immediately followed by a second one — a more large-scale, marking the 20th anniversary of the Constitution. It may involve already 20,000 inmates, some of them being political opponents of the authorities. This seemed impossible at the beginning of the year.

Early in the year, the State Duma passes the law allowing regions to abandon the practice of choosing heads of the region in direct elections. However, contrary to many forecasts, this norm is introduced only in North Caucasian republics, for which it was initially intended. So far the implementation is in line with substantiation. But speaking about the election practice, the single voting day in 2013 was highly contradictory: in some regions opposition candidates are nominated and even win, in others the elections proceed toughly — fully in accordance with the previous election practice.

Contradiction in pursuing a single policy was also manifested in fight against corruption. Late in October, the head of the presidential administration, Sergei Ivanov, for the first time publicly summed up the results of the campaign to check declarations by state officials. He announced that additional checks had been launched against 20 officials who had not accounted for their spending or had done it inaccurately. A total of 200 people were sacked in connection with loss of trust after declarations on revenues and property had been assessed. Five of them were from central offices of federal agencies, 158 were from their territorial branches and only 32 — at municipal or regional levels. Two mayors in regional capitals were arrested on corruption charges this year — Yaroslavl Mayor Yevgeny Urlashov winning on opposition slogans and Astrakhan Mayor Mikhail Stolyarov, with the ruling United Russia party throwing its weight behind him in the March 2012 election.

It seems everything has become logical — corruption has become a public and administrative threat, the authorities have taken measures, in between seizing trump cards from their opponents. However, all these efforts are downplayed by ups and downs in the investigation into the activity of former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.

Two large-scale reforms announced this year — of the judicial system and local self-government, are equally contradictory, the newspaper believes.


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