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Local government reform will “hit” regional party offices and strong municipal power -- experts

The State Duma received amendments to the law «On basic principles of organizing local government in Russian Federation» (LG). Experts think that this reform will «hit» regional party offices and strong municipal power in the cities.

«United Russia» deputies, in particular the chairman of the National Russian council of local government (RCLG) Vyacheslav Timchenko, together with colleagues from LDPR, submitted yesterday to the State Duma amendments to the draft law «On basic principles of organizing local government in Russian Federation» (LG). The law’s authors suggest abolishing direct elections of mayors of large cities that are divided into districts (a total of 67 cities).

According to the new rules, city heads will be appointed from the city duma deputies. And the parliaments of such townships will be formed from deputies appointed by districts. Thus, parliamentarians are trying to restore the lost connection between the people and the city authorities, promote development of a strong, independent, financially sound local government. «In large megapolises, the city municipal powers that are weakly controlled by society and that have substantial material and financial resources are distanced from the people, therefore are often ineffective in ensuring the population living, their work was accompanied by corruption scandals, there were cases of inappropriate use of budget funds, dubious privatizing of municipal property, etc.» — says the explanatory note. In order to solve these problems, legislators suggest spreading the two-level model of LG organization in large cities: the city district with an intra-city division and intra-city district. Creating such city districts and intra-city municipalities will be governed by the laws of corresponding subjects of the Russian Federation.

If the State Duma approves the LG reform, the heads of municipalities will be elected exclusively (right now there are two ways: direct elections or from current deputies) by the representative body of the municipality from its members and will act as their chairmen, and the heads of local administrations will be appointed through contracts signed as a result of a tender to fulfill the said position for the term set forth by the charter of a municipality. In villages, there is a possibility of having the powers of the head of local administration vested in the head of municipality. We should note that the parliament of a city with intra-city division will be formed from the members of representative bodies of the districts with an equal norm of representations, regardless of the district’s population.

In view of the new legislative initiative, an expert of the committee of civil initiatives Alexander Kynev wrote on his facebook page: «they did publish a draft law on demolishing LG. Judging from the text, they chose the most harsh alternative — elections by people of all cities are abolished (see page 13), only villages and city districts without intra-city districts remain (but they can also implement a city-manager), in tender committees 50% of the members are appointed by the governor. In other words, this is appointment of mayors + abolition of electivity of city councils and large-scale conning of all system parties, so it is not even a «Klishas project», simply replacing of elections with appointing in all important cities — the point of existence of many organizations of KPRF, LDPR, SR and especially others is destroyed".

The co-chairman of Council of «Golos» movement Arkadiy Lyubarev thinks that as a result of the reform, strong municipal power in the cities will be liquidated. «As a result, the city power will be fully controlled by regional bureaucracy, the governor. I see danger in that. And that seems to be the reason for starting all of this. A grain of reason in the matter of reforming LG can only be if the task is performed in a different manner» — he thinks.
We remind you that the work group on reforming LG was created after the Russian President’s address at the end of last year.

Press-office of «Golos» movement