In Federation Council, power bounces back to regions
A major reform of Russia’s upper house of parliament will strengthen the role of regional interests and kick out the big number of business tycoons and retired governors.
The reform bill presented last week by President Vladimir Putin proposes a number of major changes in the way the Federation Council is composed. According to the bill, only candidates with a five-year registered residence in the respective region can be chosen as senator.
All of Russia’s 83 regions are represented with two members of the council, one from the legislative branch of power and one from the executive. However, over the last 12 years, the council has gradually degraded into a playground for retired governors and former top officials, as well as powerful business tycoons. When Vladimir Putin first came coming to power in year 2000 he soon deprived the regional governors of their control of the Federation Council as part of his power centralization policy. Today, about half of all the senators have no adherence whatsoever to the regions they represent.
Now, however, power seems to be bouncing back to the regions.
According to the new law, the regional legislative assemblies will choose one of their own members as senator. Meanwhile, people running for governors posts will all have to nominate three candidates, one of whom ultimately will be appointed as senator.
Also Dmitry Medvedev during his presidency made attempts to reform the Federation Council and introduced mandatory representation from regional or municipal assemblies. This, however, did not prevent former top officials, retired governors and business leader from getting into the club. Among the people who managed to circumvent the rules was Vladimir Chub, the dismissed governor or Rostov Oblast, who in late 2011 became senator for Murmansk Oblast after having secured a seat in the local council of Varzuga, a tiny village on the White Sea coast.
Although the new legislation introduces major changes in the way the council is composed, there is little doubt that the senators will adopt the law. Over the last years, the approved practically all bills presented by the president and his government-loyal State Duma. In 2011, the Federation Council turned down only three of 317 bills, newspaper Vedomosti reports. In 2012, the council adopted 101 bills, and turned down none.