PUTIN IS OUT TO AMEND THE ELECTORAL LEGISLATION
Vremya Novostei, February 26, 2001, p. 1
Russians will be electing less often but in a better manner. Vladimir Putin has forwarded to the Duma draft amendments to the current electoral legislation. Drafted by the Central Election Commission, the amendments will do away with the problem of endless elections which Russians are already sick of and with some governors’ ingenuity.
It does not take a genius to see that Duma deputies will back up the president in his desire to abolish governors’ and mayors’ right to retire before their time is up only to win new elections called immediately afterwards. Voluntary resignations usually occur when the incumbent governors’ rating in the region is still high but there are no guarantees that it will remain so high by the date of the planned election.
Another presidential amendment suggests a reduction of the number of additional and repeated elections to the Duma. Under the current legislation, additional elections should be organized within three months whenever deputy from a single-mandate district leaves the parliament. If another deputy is not elected in his place, the next election is organized three months later, and so on ad nauseam.
According to the Central Election Commission, all of this results in an endless series of elections invalidated by voters’ failure to turn up at their polling stations. Alexander Veshnyakov of the Central Election Commission says that people are fed up with elections.
The president suggests that early elections should be organized no later than a year after and the additional one no later than two years later.
Duma parties eager to build up their factions through single-mandate districts will probably object. Viktor Sheinis, one of the authors of the current electoral laws and a Yabloko deputy in the previous Duma, says that the required minimum of participants of early and additional elections should be lowered instead of extending the period before new elections are held.
NAZDRATENKO IS GIVEN A POST IN MOSCOW
Moskovsky Komsomolets, February 26, 2001, p. 2
Moskovsky Komsomolets daily has already carried materials on how Nazdratenko bargained with the Kremlin concerning his participation in the gubernatorial race in Primorie. Unfortunately, the federal center turned out to be too weak to withstand Nazdratenko’s longing for a pushy cushion in Moscow in a position connected with considerable finances.
Many representatives of the political beau monde are not happy over Nazdratenko’s promotion. The right politicians brand it as a Kremlin political game. Boris Nemtsov of the Union of Right Forces says that “Instead of winning the gubernatorial race in the Primorie – it would have been easy, in view of Nazdratenko’s sins – the regime is throwing him a bone in form of Goskomrybolovstvo”. Sergei Ivanenko of the Yabloko says that this is “a typical rotation in the nomenclature, like in the Soviet Union” so as to prevent Nazdratenko’s reelection “because experience shows that governors who resign under pressure from the Kremlin enjoy high popularity in the regions”. Gennadi Raikov of the pro-Kremlin People’s Deputy group also assumes that “a deal must have been made to prevent him from running for governor again”.
As for Nazdratenko’s competency, absolutely no one believes in it.
THE UPCOMING LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES: AN UPDATE
Moskovsky Komsomolets, February 26, 2001, p. 2
Its leader Andrei Isayev says that preparations to the transformation will be completed by December “when an independent political program will have been worked out and the transition from collective to individual membership will have been executed.” The Labor Union is a collective member of the movement Fatherland. Isayev says that there are advocates of further integration into the Fatherland in the Labor Union. He does not rule out the possibility that if the Fatherland does not delay its own transformation into a political party and reiterates its left-centrist position, the Labor Union will probably abandon its independence.
The period of political bargaining and deals is in the wind.
OUR HOME IS RUSSIA IS HISTORY
Rossiya, February 26, 2001, p. 3
Leader of Our Home is Russia Viktor Chernomyrdin has officially confirmed reports on the disbandment of his movement. Actually, the dissolution dates back to the last parliamentary election. Chernomyrdin says that Our Home is Russia will not participate in the elections as an independent organization because of its amalgamation with Unity. This decision was made at the last congress of the movement. All members of Our Home is Russia movement were recommended to join Unity.
PRESIDENT KUCHMA FACES PEOPLE’S TRIAL
Segodnya, February 26, 2001, p. 2
On the eve of the rally Kuchma did the only thing he could. He promised to address the parliament on the socioeconomic situation in Ukraine soon.
It is known already that Kuchma intends to promise improvement of relations with Russia. Allegedly, Ukraine is going to improve its economic situation with Moscow’s help. This promise is supposed to appease the communists.
If the effect of Kuchma’s statement falls flat, the name of his successor has already been announced. He is Premier Viktor Yuschenko. The latest opinion polls in Ukraine show that 32.5% Ukrainians call him Politician of the Year, and only 14% give the title to Kuchma.
The organizers of the Ukraine Sans Kuchma action say they expect the regime to use force against the opposition.