Staunton, January 25 – “It is too early to celebrate” President Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal, under pressure from Russian society, to restore gubernatorial elections because he will soon be out of office and because the arrangements he and Vladimir Putin have made mean “the first” such votes would take place “only in 2016,” according to the URA.ru news agency.
According to the agency, which often breaks stories before Moscow outlets, officials in the Urals region have received “explanations from the Presidential Administration” that suggest no direct gubernatorial votes will begin before 2013 and that many may be appointed long after that (www.ura.ru/content/svrd/24-01-2012/articles/1036257519.html).
Last week, Medvedev made his much-ballyhooed proposal to restore gubernatorial elections, albeit with a number of qualifications including in most cases consultations with the president. Then on Monday, Prime Minister and president-presumptive Vladimir Putin said that there should be a “public” discussion about whether to have such votes.
“But the entire dispute,” URA.ru continues, “is to put it mildly premature,” given that the staff of several regional heads in the Urals have told the agency that “their leaders are calm and not even preparing for direct elections,” given the focus on the presidential campaign and on Putin’s earlier elimination of votes on these positions.
Aleksandr Burkov, first deputy chairman of the Duma’s federal affairs and local administration, confirmed the news agency’s conclusions, pointing out that any new electoral law would certainly be reviewed by the incoming president and incoming government before going into force.
That will be made all the easier by the public discussion Putin has proposed and by the plans of many governors to ask for a new expression of trust after the March 4 elections, as “Kommersant” reported, requests that would likely keep them in office until 2016, when the current term of the Duma expires.
Moreover, Burkov told URA.ru, “in key regions, governors will be appointed.” Among those would be the heads of “all the subjects of the Russian Federation included in the Urals Federal District, except for that of Kurgan oblast” as well as likely in many other parts of the country.
The Just Russia deputy added that Medvedev’s draft in any case will have to be modified. And the news agency stressed that those who think the election of governors is a done deal may be disappointed, thereby suggesting that this concession to public opinion may be little more than an electoral ploy rather than a move to return to genuine federalism.