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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Kremlin rules out direct popular elections of Russian governors

RIA Novosti

27/01/2009 19:11 MOSCOW, January 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Kremlin will not reinstate direct popular elections for regional governors in Russia, deputy head of the presidential administration Vladislav Surkov told journalists on Tuesday.

"We won't have direct gubernatorial elections, we won't bring them back," Surkov said. "We will not follow the motives of some liberal figures who think the more elections, the better. That's just not the case."

Surkov said that the law on the appointment of gubernatorial candidates by regional assemblies makes the process more transparent. On the recommendation of his regional representative, the president submits a candidate for approval in a region's parliament.

"The law gets rid of some of the secrecy in choosing candidates for the position of governor," Surkov said.

He said that the United Russia party having a majority throughout regional parliaments did not mean that the governor would automatically be a member of that party.

As an example, Surkov noted the Kirov region governor, Nikita Belykh, who is not from the United Russia party. "There will be governors from other parties," he said.

Last summer, the presidents of the Russian republics of Tatarstan and Bashkir moved for a return to the direct popular elections of regional governors. In November, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said that the elections of regional leaders by either direct or alternative voting would be more legitimate than the local parliaments nominating a candidate for the Russian president's approval.

Surkov also said that the Kremlin plans to gradually lower the number of signatures needed by a party to participate in State Duma elections from 200,000 to 100,000-120,000. The move was first proposed by President Dmitry Medvedev in last November's state of the nation address.

"We deliberately decided to eliminate the deposit one could pay in order to participate in elections," Sukov said. "We believe it is possible as well to lower the number of signatures needed for participation in, for example, parliamentary elections."

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