The speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament, Gennady Seleznev, said yesterday that he had agreed to a request from Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko for the Duma to interrupt its summer holiday and convene for an extraordinary session on August 19 and 20. (Itar-Tass, ORT, RTR, August 5)
Seleznev said the Duma would consider six new bills put forward by the government and give the second and third readings to a number of economic measures that passed their first reading in July. Seleznev said Kirienko had promised not to re-submit bills that the Duma has already rejected. This seems to include a government request for additional powers, which Seleznev has already said the Duma will refuse. The Duma will make an exception for legislation on income tax that it approved in the first reading but rejected in the second; this will be re-submitted by the government in an amended form. The Duma may also, Seleznev said, discuss the issue of land reform. (See following story)
Izvestia commented yesterday that the government has always known that the Duma will never agree to its request for additional powers. But if the Duma refuses to discuss the government’s proposals, the newspaper predicted, the government will feel it has a “moral right” to adopt them by presidential decree and government resolution. (Izvestia, April 5) The government has already used this method to enact some of the measures that the Duma rejected in July, such as increasing the value-added tax on staple goods from ten percent to twenty percent. The government does not have the constitutional right to levy taxes. Accusing the government of acting like “dictators in a totalitarian state,” Samara Oblast Governor Konstantin Titov has said he will appeal against the VAT increase to the Russian Constitutional Court. (Izvestia, July 30)
GOVERNMENT VOWS TO PRESS AHEAD WITH LAND REFORM.