NOVO-OGARYOVO, January 16. /TASS/. Measures to enhance the role of parliament in Russia will not contradict the idea that Russia should remain a presidential republic, President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with members of the working group commissioned to draft proposals for amendments to the Constitution.
He recalled that the amendments to the fundamental law he initiated in his Address to the Federal Assembly would enhance the responsibility of the parliament and government.
"I am certain that many of those present will agree, and so will an overwhelming majority of Russian citizens, that Russia at the same time will remain a presidential republic, that the president should retain major powers, such as the right to dismiss lawbreakers, those who display negligence in performing their duties and in connection with the loss of trust," Putin said.
He claimed that otherwise the country would drift towards a parliamentary republic, "which today would be a major test for Russia with an unclear outcome."
Meanwhile, according to the president, the measures to enhance the role of parliament in Russia will not contradict the idea that Russia should remain a presidential republic. "The amendments that were proposed yesterday, do not concern the fundamental basics of the Constitution. The main thrust of these amendments will be to ensure Russia’s further development as a social state ruled by law, enhance the effectiveness of national institutions, strengthen the role of civil society, political parties and our regions in formulating the most important decisions related to the development of our state," Putin pointed out.
State Council’s prerogatives
The prerogatives of the Russian State Council should not coincide with those of the Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament), the president cautioned. Putin added that the State Council should not become "another chamber of regions."
The Russian leader stressed that the Federation Council would remain the chamber representing Russian regions. "We need to be very careful here, this is a very delicate issue, we cannot just create another chamber of regions, we need to be careful as to how to define the State Council in the Constitution, its prerogatives and so on," Putin noted.
The president also repeated his proposal to expand the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, allowing it to conduct quality control on Russian legislation.
In Wednesday’s State of the Nation Address, Putin put forward a number of initiatives changing the framework of power structures at all levels, from municipal authorities to the president. The initiatives particularly stipulate that the powers of the legislative and judicial branches, including the Constitutional Court, will be expanded. The president also proposed to expand the role of the Russian State Council. Putin suggested giving the State Duma (the lower house of parliament) the right to approve the appointment of the country’s prime minister, deputy prime ministers and ministers.
The president offered to organize a public vote to confirm these changes. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov informed that the Russian leader would sign a separate decree stipulating the procedure and the date of a public vote on this issue.
International treaties may have priority over Russia’s laws, but not the Constitution, Vladimir Putin stated.
He noted that many countries had long made similar decisions and "enshrined without hesitation" that everything that does not contradict their constitutions is in effect on their territories. "That does not mean that we are shying away from a situation where an international treaty has primacy over other Russian laws. But not the Constitution. If a treaty, whatever it is, is out of sync with the Constitution, it should not be concluded. If we find out that it violates the Constitution, it will not be in effect in Russia," Putin clarified.
He explained he was referring to new rules of appointing the prime minister, his deputies and federal ministers.
"Imagine: the prime minister is appointed and the president has no right to reject the candidate, and then the prime minister takes his proposals not to the president, but to parliament and parliament finally approves deputy prime ministers and federal minsters. The president has no right to reject them in this case, too," Putin noted.
In his opinion this is very reasonable, because "Russia, while remaining a presidential republic, will become more open."
"The importance of parliament grows and cooperation between parliament and the government is enhanced. There emerges a situation where parliament will bear greater responsibility — and not only for the appointed government ministers and deputy prime ministers, but also for the job they do and for the policy the government conducts," Putin said, adding that a tighter link between parliament and the government "is already in great demand."
"I am certain that many of those present will agree, and so will an overwhelming majority of Russian citizens, that Russia at the same time will remain a presidential republic, that the president should retain major powers, such as the right to dismiss lawbreakers, those who display negligence in performing their duties and in connection with the loss of trust," Putin said. In his opinion this is "an absolutely mandatory imperative," because otherwise the country would drift towards a parliamentary republic.
"Given our complex organization of the state and its multiconfessionalism and multi-ethnicity and vast territory, it would be a major test for Russia with an unclear outcome. This flexible combination of a greater role of parliament and [its level of] cooperation with the government, with the head of state retaining serious prerogatives looks well-founded to me," Putin concluded.