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ITAR-TASS, September 13, 2004

Mixed reaction from Russian party leaders to Putin's political proposals

Moscow, 13 September: The leader of the Motherland party, Dmitriy Rogozin, has backed the proposals on reforming the authorities that President Putin made at an expanded session of the government today. Rogozin noted the comprehensive nature of the head of state's approach, which combines action to promote national unity and strengthen state structures to ensure security.

"This is an entire package of measures," he said, stressing that the president also put forward a new understanding of federalism that is, in essence, more organic for Russia.

"Russia has always been a single state and has always been structured from the centre outwards to the regions," he said. Changes in the way governors are elected will make it possible to "avoid blackmail of the federal centre by overweening regional barons and oligarchs". Having backed the president's ideas on changing the way governors are elected, Rogozin called for changes to the way the Federation Council is formed. The system whereby governors who are in effect "appointed" then in turn appoint their representatives is a "nonsense", he said.

Rogozin also pointed out that Putin is banking on the support of influential national parties when forming the new system of power. But "that is only possible if all parties have equal access to the media," he said, adding that "this is the only thing that I haven't heard from the president".

Gennadiy Gudkov, leader of the People's Party, told ITAR-TASS that he sees "a bit of a contradiction" between the president's words on the role of federal parties and their de-facto removal from elections for regional leaders. "If we abolish the single-seat constituencies, then only parties will be able to nominate candidates for the presidency and regional governorships," he said.

Vladimir Plotnikov, leader of the Agrarian Party, said in this regard: "The only thing that candidate governors think about is which of them will get the president's backing, and now this system is going to be made into law."

Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the Yabloko party, thinks that the president's plan to take control of regional gubernatorial elections is "anticonstitutional". In an official statement, he said the plan was "insulting" to the people of Russia. "Abolishing elections in members of the federation is a blow against the foundations of federalism in Russia," according to the statement. Yabloko's press office said the party has already notified the central Moscow prefecture of a protest rally to be held jointly with human-rights organizations.


ITAR-TASS, September 13, 2004

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