United Russia lawmakers suggest abolition of the election deposit (one of the theses of President Dmitry Medvedev’s message to the Federal Assembly).

United Russia lawmakers Svetlana Zhurova, Grigori Ivliyev, Sergei Belokonev, and Irina Yarovaya submitted to the Duma a draft law abolishing the election deposit in all campaigns from federal to municipal. President Dmitry Medvedev had suggested it in his message to the Federal Assembly last month.

“The election deposit should be abolished. It is not monies that should count but opinion of the people, repute of the political party, and voters’ trust in its program,” Medvedev said.

The president was similarly critical of the number of signatures political parties without factions in the Duma needed for registration. “We should discuss gradual reduction of the number of voters’ signatures needed by the political parties intent on running for the Duma,” he said. Medvedev even suggested abolition of exclusive privileges restricted to political parties represented in the Duma. “The way I see it, the political parties that polled over 5% in the Duma election or established factions in more than every third regional parliament should be relieved of the necessity to compile signatures,” he said.

For some reason, however, the ruling party concentrated on the election deposit alone and ignored the president’s other demands. Nothing prevented United Russia from amending the acting legislation with regard to collection of signatures simultaneously with abolition of the election deposit but the ruling party chose not to. The impression is that Medvedev’s democratic initiatives are believed to be so bitter a pill as to warrant use in small doses only.

In the meantime, some deputies question democratic nature of the changes Medvedev suggested. Oleg Kulikov of the CPRF for example commented that the political parties and candidates at odds with the powers-that-be had always used the mechanism of the election deposit because “It offered them the only chance to run in the forthcoming campaign.” Indeed, the Union of Right Forces and Yabloko did use this mechanism in recent elections of the Duma.

According to Kulikov, restrictions on the use of the election deposit mechanism would have been a better way to advance democracy. The lawmaker recalled the invention of the St.Petersburg authorities in 2007 that had enraged all political parties without exception. The election deposit for the regional parliamentary campaign was then set at 90 million rubles when even the one for the federal elections never exceeded 60 million rubles.