DUMA TO CONSIDER GOVERNOR DRAFT LAW

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MOSCOW, October 28 (RIA Novosti) - At its Friday session, the State Duma will consider the first reading of the president's draft law establishing a new order of forming top executive bodies in Russian constituent members.

This draft law complies with the Constitution, Speaker of the Duma Boris Gryzlov told reporters today. He added that according to the Constitution, the head of a Russian constituent member can be appointed both by direct voting of local residents and by representative power bodies.

Gryzlov added that according to the law, the regional parliament would consider the candidacy for the governor to be recommended by the Russian president. "This draft law seeks to strengthen the power vertical and increase responsibility of local legislative assemblies for the situation in the regions," said Gryzlov.

He also emphasised that the appointed governor would be held directly accountable for his work to the regional legislators.

Gryzlov was quite critical about the current system of governor elections, noting that the socio-economic situation in Russian constituent members had recently aggravated. "In 2003 alone, the number of regions receiving substantial subsidies from the budget increased from 29 to 31 (out of 89)," said the speaker.

"I also see serious problems in the fact that governors of Russian constituent members are heading anti-terrorist commissions as well. Practice has shown that their leadership in them is usually far from efficient," said the speaker.

He emphasised that Russian constituent members should be run by "well qualified" and locally respected people. Gryzlov confirmed that the first reading would leave intact the provision of the draft law that the regional parliament should be dissolved if it fails twice to approve the president's candidate for governor. At the same time, he believes that the second reading will involve numerous amendments, with the majority of them dealing with this particular point.

The Duma speaker also thinks that protests to be held by the opposition are also legal. The law in hand allows such protests as the ones scheduled for today, tomorrow and, perhaps, the day after tomorrow to be held, he said.

At 1 pm Moscow time on Thursday, active representatives of Yabloko, the Union of Right Forces, the Communist Party, and members of Irina Khakamada's newly formed party along with public organisations led by Sergei Glazyev intend to organise protests in front of the State Duma building against the scheduled abolishment of direct governor elections.

On Friday, when the State Duma will be considering the first reading of the draft law, the left- and right-wingers will hold protests near the Duma building at 9.30 am.

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