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    MOSCOW, February 19, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Federation Council, or the upper chamber of parliament, has got less dependent on the electorate, which is a major result of the council's activities over the past 10 years, said Mikhail Margelov, head of the Federation Council's international affairs committee.

    When speaking at a conference devoted to the Council's jubilee on Thursday, Mr Margelov noted that political, economic and administrative life in Russia had stabilised. The consolidation of the vertical of power, the effort that included the president-sponsored reform of the Federation Council, contributed to current stability, according to the senator. Today, the upper house is composed of representatives appointed by regional administrations, rather than of governors, which was the case before the reform.

    Mr Margelov believes the Council continues to be an important factor ensuring the development of the state and society.

    However, the Federation Council can evolve into a still more democratic institute by involving the public in the procedure of forming the chamber, for example through an electoral college, said Mr Margelov.

    The senator proposed creating electoral colleges in Russia's constituent entities. Regional legislatures and executive bodies would form the colleges on a parity basis, Mr Margelov said, adding that political parties' and election blocs' opinions must be taken into account. There is yet another option, electoral colleges could represent corporate entities like unions of entrepreneurs or trade unions, rather than political parties, suggested the senator.

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