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    MOSCOW, March 19, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- At its Friday session, the State Duma approved in the three readings the presidential draft laws on the integration of the Perm Region and the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Area (Volga Federal District). A total of 423 deputies (the requisite number being 300) voted for the approval of the federal constitutional law On the Creation within the Russian Federation of a New Federation Member Following the Integration Of the Perm Region and the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Area.

    The Duma also approved amendments to Articles 24 and 33 of the federal constitutional law On the Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation, which are concerned with the integration of Federation members.

    Presenting the draft law, Andrei Klimov, chairman of the subcommittee on the regional policy of the Duma committee on the Federation, pointed out that the president had appealed to the Duma to discuss the draft as a priority. The president's plenipotentiary representative in the State Duma, Alexander Klimov, stressed that the documents provide for formalising the results of the referendum on the creation of the Perm Territory, held in the Perm Region and the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Area in December 2003.

    The law on the integration of Federation members includes provisions under which the Perm Region and the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Area cease to exist as Federation members as of December 1, 2005, by which time such issues as the creation of bodies of state authority should be settled. The Perm Territory shall be the legal successor with regard to the property of the region and the area in relations with the bodies of federal authority, other Federation members, foreign states and international organisations.

    The gubernatorial elections of the new territory will be held on the first Sunday of December 2005 and elections to the territorial parliament are set for December 2005, said Mr. Klimov.

    The second presidential draft law stipulates the creation of the arbitration court of the new territory and the termination of the arbitration courts of the region and the area. Mr. Kotenkov said the law stipulates a transition period until June 30, 2007 for these courts, when the courts will continue to work while the judicial system of the territory will be overhauled.

    The presidential representative added that under the current legislation, Federation members can unite but not divide.

    The draft law adopted by the deputies will be submitted for the consideration of the Federation Council and, if the Council members approve it, forwarded for signing by the president.

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