PACE REPRESENTATIVE COMMENTS ON RUSSIAN ELECTION REFORM

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MOSCOW, October 18 (RIA Novosti) - David Atkinson and Rudolf Bindig, rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), finished a visit to Russia late last week. Mr. Atkinson commented on the changes to the Russian electoral system proposed by President Vladimir Putin in September for Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

He said that to some extent he understood President Putin's reasons for reforms on the appointment and elections of governors, as well as shared the president's feeling that the level of corruption among the regional governors under the current system has not decreased. Mr. Putin wants a new generation of governors, who he will appoint provided they are endorsed by local legislatures. This does not contradict the Constitution or require amendments to it, Mr. Atkinson believes. Moreover, if the president appoints a governor who is unpopular in the region, the local Duma will still have the opportunity to vote against the candidate. Mr. Atkinson is of the opinion that this will send a signal to the president that he has made a mistake in appointing this person.

When talking about abolition of single-member constituencies, Mr. Atkinson said that he understood the president's motivation, to strengthen the multi-party system, which he believes does need to be enhanced. However, it would be better for any parliament to have some independent candidates representing certain constituencies. In other words, Mr. Atkinson would be upset if President Putin abolished the elections in individual constituencies.

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