Tuesday, October 22, 2019

LDPR Deputy Calls for Governors to Serve Simultaneously as Senators

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 18 – Sergey Ivanov, an LDPR Duma deputy, has introduced legislation that would have governors serve as members of the Federation Council at the same time, a measure that he says would help raise a new generation of national leaders while saving the country a trillion rubles (16 billion US dollars) a year (ria.ru/20191017/1559889810.htm).

            According to Ivanov, under the terms of his proposed change, “subjects of the Russian Federation would then be able to take direct part in legislative work, having received the chance besides their existing right of legislative initiative to vote on the adoption of laws, including the budget.” Governors would serve in the senate on an unpaid basis.

            As it often does with legislative proposals, the Regions.ru portal surveyed past and present members of the Duma and Federation Council on their views. In this case, it asked three. The first, Anatoly Lyskov, a non-part senator from Lipetsk from 2002 to 2014, was supportive (regions.ru/news/2627481/).

            He said that the change would bring much-needed regional experience to the legislative process; but perhaps the biggest reason for adopting the proposal is that it would allow such leaders to become better known beyond the borders of their own federal subjects and thus gain the stature to become all-Russian leaders in the future.

            Such leaders are “not born but become such” if the right conditions are created, Lyskov continued.  To those who say such people don’t have experience with issues like national security, he responded that this would expose them to such issues but that in reality national security is dealt with not in the parliament but by the president.

            “The Federation Council often is called the chamber of the regions,” he says. “Until recently according to the Constitution, this was no. Now, however, in conformity with the same Constitution, at the initiative of the president can be appointed to it representatives not only of the regions.” That could continue even if Ivanov’s proposal is adopted.

            Mikhail Yemelyanov, the First Russia deputy chairman of the Duma’s committee on state construction, noted that the first Federation Council which assembled in 1993 was “formed on the basis of direct elections” and included not only the heads of regional administrations but others as well.

            The initial arrangement was “not too effective” but was introduced as “a concession to separatist and centrifugal tendencies in the Russian Federation,” Yemelyanov continued.  It made the center dependent on the regional “’barons’” and that it was entirely appropriate that Vladimir Putin worked to change things.   

            Rather than putting governors in the Federation Council, the Duma deputy says, it would be better to have direct elections of senators.

            But Frants Klinetsevich, a United Russia Federation Council member who is on that body’s defense and security commission, says there is no need for any change: the current arrangement is “absolutely effective” and the proposed change would deprive the council of valuable expertise from those who had different career paths than governors. 

            He suggested that the current practice of installing former governors in the Federation Council addresses all the concerns Ivanov has without sacrificing the expertise others can bring to the table or recreating the problems that the Kremlin often had with the upper chamber in the 1990s.

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