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    MOSCOW, February 19th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - Federation Council (upper house) Speaker Sergei Mironov is coming out for electing senators by direct polls.

    "I think we will switch over to direct elections of the Federation Council members," the speaker said in Moscow Thursday at an international conference, "Federation Council: Decade-Long Experience, Results and Prospects." At the same time, Mironov believes there is no reason to hurry. "Such crucial decisions need time," he said. "There is no need to change the routine of forming the upper house too often." Sergei Mironov positively assessed the work of the Federation Council in the past years. In his words, the upper house has recently stepped up its legislative efforts. According to the speaker, one of the Federation Council's priorities is "to increase the efficiency of regional legislative initiatives." He continued, "last year over 1,300 legislative initiatives came from the regions." "Unfortunately, only 46 such bills were enacted," he added.

    Sergei Mironov highly assessed the Federation Council's interaction with the State Duma (lower house) and executive bodies. "Earlier, the Federation Council turned down every third law adopted by the State Duma, now it is a rarity," he said.

    Mironov described "improving the quality of laws and creating an integral system of the Russian legislation" as a priority of the Federation Council. In his opinion, "the Federation Council has managed to keep pace with the time, as a major token of stability and succession." State Duma Vice Speaker Lyubov Sliska and PACE Deputy Chairman Luc Van Den Brande greeted the participants in the international conference, i.e. upper house speakers from several European countries.

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