ONE MONTH FOR REFORMS

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EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION MAY BE ARRANGED TO SPARE THE PREMIER RESPONSIBILITY IN THE FINANCIAL CRISIS

United Russia functionaries give regional legislatures a month to endorse amendment of the Constitution suggested by President Medvedev.


Sources in the upper echelons of United Russia claim that the order was given to regional organizations to hurry up with endorsement of amendments to the Constitution President Dmitry Medvedev suggested. (The law requires their approval by two regional parliaments out of three.) It suddenly occurred to party functionaries in Moscow that barely a dozen regional legislatures have the guidelines to follow. Once the thought sank in, they acted without delay. Central organization of the ruling party forwarded to the regions samples of amendments to the acting regulations (offices of presidential plenipotentiary representatives did so too, as a backup). Local organizations of United Russia controlling parliaments in the regions were given before November 25 to amend local regulations and before December 23 to endorse what constitutes the constitutional reforms. Every local legislature dominated by United Russia is expected to carry the motion by two thirds votes.

Le Figaro in the meantime featured an interview with Medvedev where he commented on speculations concerning early election. “I’ve been working, haven’t I? Why force any decisions on me?” Medvedev said. “All I can say is that this new term of office will only apply to whoever runs for president when the amendments have been adopted.”

Adopted they will be. St.Petersburg municipal legislature Chairman Vadim Tyulpanov for one said that the regulations included no special provisions in connection with the matter at hand. “I’ll just suggest a draft resolution on endorsement of the law on amendment of the Constitution,” Tyulpanov said. “A mere majority will suffice.”

According to Alexander Moskalets of the Constitutional Legislation Committee of the Duma, the law on amendment of the Constitution requires that the whole procedure take no longer than a year. As matters stand, however, regional legislatures are given a month to ponder draft laws soon to be put on the floor before the first reading and another month between the first reading and the second. Suggested amendments to the Constitution will probably be forwarded to regional parliaments after their adoption by the Duma, i.e. next week or so.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, LDPR leader and Duma Assistant Chairman, ventured an opinion that Vladimir Putin would resign from the government and that the Duma had to be elected anew. CPRF leader Gennadi Zyuganov yesterday suggested that amendment of the Constitution gave the premier a chance to step down without losing face (or rating) in the midst of the financial crisis. “Amendment of the Constitution will be impossible in six months, when everything will have collapsed already,” Zyuganov said. He assumed furthermore that United Russia convention scheduled to take place in Moscow on November 20 would be focused on devising ways and means of getting party leader Putin off the hook (a reference to the economic crisis under way).

Vadim Soloviov of the Constitutional Legislation Committee announced meanwhile that an early parliamentary election should be followed by automatic resignation of the Cabinet. Moreover, the Duma and the president must be given at least one year before their early elections might be announced (that means December 2 and March 9).

“Early election might take place. It will depend on the crisis… on whether or not the situation keeps deteriorating,” a source in the upper echelons of United Russia said.

Approached for comments, Vladimir Pekhtin (assistant leader of the United Russia faction) said that he did not expect early election to separate parliamentary and presidential campaigns. He appraised the 5th Duma as quite productive and added that running elections with the global financial crisis and oil prices falling was a luxury Russia couldn’t afford.

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