"There is an idea to set up a Public Chamber for broad0based debates on civil initiatives. I think it's a fruitful idea," said the federal President, September 13. He was addressing an enlarged-attendance Cabinet session, at which regional governors appeared.
As President Putin sees it, the Public Chamber will provide public monitoring and control of the administrative staff.
The Civil Debates club gathered analysts today to take stock of the prospects. Civil society has been offered a chance to determine the arrangement and tasks of the Public Chamber, whose practical patterns are vague for now, said the conferees.
"The presidential initiative may encourage the community to extend democratic policy-making to an unprecedented scope. Will the democratic wing join Mr. Putin for an attack on the corrupt and decrepit old administration? The way the Public Chamber will be depends on that. It is up to the community to decide," said Gleb Pavlovsky, Effective Policy Foundation president.
The public is badly pressed for time to offer its own initiatives-President Putin is determined to come up before the year's end with his own package of bills that will entirely change formative principles for the administrative vertical, he emphatically added.
It must be up to President Putin to appoint Public Chamber members, said certain debaters. Speaker Vladimir Platonov of the Moscow City Council came down on them. "Not a single member is to be appointed-the Public Chamber is to make a dynamic body for anyone to apply to on whatever topical matter," he stressed.
Not supervision but expertise and moral influence is to be the prospective Public Chamber's central duty. That is how Ludmilla Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, sees the budding arrangement. "Civil society is to use the Chamber to promote its own interests. I think it ought to sieve out forthcoming bills, and so civilise legislators," she remarked.
The Public Chamber ought to represent the various social groups-the way a Constitutional Assembly does, said Anatoli Kucherena, prominent lawyer who is setting up a Civil Initiative public movement.
"No matter who will be on the Chamber. What truly matters is its competence and chance to exercise public control-for instance, a veto right, which would make MPs get back to considering disputable bills," said Maria Slobodskaya, president of the Institute of Civil Society Problems.
The federal President ought to make several gubernatorial nominations for regional legislatures to elect, added several speakers.
"Let's dot all i's and cross all t's now. Let us say out loud that we are the backbone of the Public Chamber, and we are ready to get it going. That will be, at any rate, a way to shoulder a part of the responsibilities," said Vitali Tretyakov, NIG independent publishers president.