The lower chamber of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, approved on Tuesday in the first reading the sweeping political reforms proposed by President Dmitry Medvedev.
The State Duma deputies voted 424-2 for a bill reintroducing direct elections of governors, scrapped by then-President Vladimir Putin in 2004. The bill allows both independent candidates and those represented by the parties to run for governor post.
The Duma also approved a bill simplifying procedures for registering political parties and reducing the number of signatures required by non-parliamentary parties and independent candidates to participate in elections.
According to the new bill, which would come into force on January 1, 2013, the minimal required number of party members is reduced to 500 from 40,000.
The second reading will take place no earlier than in a month, in accordance with procedural rules. Non-parliamentary parties have so far not applied to take part in that debate, State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said.
The first reading, when lawmakers evaluate the draft’s general concept, is a mere technicality. The second reading is the most important stage for a bill in the State Duma, because amendments can be introduced into the draft at that stage. During the third reading lawmakers make a decision on the final version.