On July 20 the Federation Council debated the “Nadezhdin amendment,” or “re-election bill,” which aims to reduce the number of regional governors having the right to run for third terms from sixty-nine to ten. The result was predictable. The regional governors and their representatives in the upper chamber threw the amendment out (Russian agencies, July 20). They did not even try to soften their action, refusing to create a conciliation commission to discuss the measure with the State Duma, which supports the amendment (Radio Ekho Moskvy, July 20).
Members of the Federation Council had early warned that it was senseless to expect any other outcome. Even representatives of the “Federation” faction, whose members support President Putin, said they would vote against (Polit.ru, July 17). Faction coordinator Valery Goreglyad called the Duma’s decision to support the amendment “disappointing.” “We are against dividing the heads of the Russian Federation subjects into three categories: those who can be elected, those who can’t and those who can but only under certain conditions,” he said (Russian agencies, July 17). Oleg Korolev, deputy speaker of the Federation Council, agreed with Goreglyad, saying: “These amendments divide us into three-, two- and one-termers” (NNS.ru, July 19). Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroev was blunt: He simply put forward his candidacy for a third term as governor of Orel Oblast without waiting for permission to do so. According to the Federation Council committees on constitutional law, and on federal affairs and regional policy, the amendment is unconstitutional, inasmuch as it would create different conditions for different regional leaders (Polit.ru, July 20).
The State Duma must now override the Federation Council’s veto or reverse its original decision. The drafter of the amendment, Boris Nadezhdin of the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) faction, said he was ready for that course of events. According to Nadezhdin, the SPS will override the veto in one of two ways–either through a secret vote or by swapping a third term for a law “that the Kremlin needs very much but the right-wing does not need at all.” This might be the law on the status of judges, the package of pension laws or “something on the reform of the federation subjects,” Nadezhdin declared (Polit.ru, July 17).
Meanwhile, the governors appear confident that the SPS’s plans will fail. Along with Orel’s Governor Stroev and Rostov’s Vladimir Chub, another regional leader is keen to be added to the list of governors allowed to run for a third term–Mikhail Nikolaev, president of the republic of Sakha (Yakutia). He has been prevented from doing so thus far not by the federal center but by Yakutia’s State Assembly, which does not want to amend local legislation and allow him to seek a third term (Russian agencies, July 17).
LUKASHENKA STAGING A FAKE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.