Year marked with record number of new laws – Duma Speaker

State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko)
An all-time high number of bills have been passed this year in Russia to meet the challenges of post-crisis development, the ruling faction chair and State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov has said in an interview with Itar-Tass news agency.

Summing up the results of 2010, the United Russia party chairman noted that it was not about achieving a record in passing bills.

“That is the pace that the country needs on the stage of the post-crisis development. Many social and economic issues required additional legislative regulation,” Gryzlov said. Moving in such high gear became possible thanks to constructive co-operation within the government that is headed by the leader of the majority party, Vladimir Putin.

The fact that laws were passed does not mean that deputies will now relax and stop paying attention to one or another issue. According to Gryzlov, “working groups have been set up to monitor [the implementation] of some bills.”

The lower chamber speaker outlined the priority directions that legislators focused on in 2010. Among them were security, social policy, modernization, and the development of political and party systems.

“We have fulfilled initiatives set in the 2009 Presidential Address [to the Federal Assembly] and have taken to fulfilling tasks voiced in 2010 Address,” Gryzlov said.

Care for the future generation was the core motif of Medvedev’s annual address to the parliament. The president named forming an efficient and modern policy towards children “task number one”. And that means quite a bit of work ahead for Russian legislators.

Gryzlov recalled that in autumn the State Duma passed the presidential bill banning persons previously convicted of pedophilia from working with children. Also, a law that is supposed to protect kids from information harming their health and development has been passed.

“Indeed, next year such legislation will be intensified. Initiatives voiced in the presidential address alone suppose an adoption of a whole range of laws. And such laws will be submitted during next [State Duma] session,” the speaker pointed out.

The United Russia faction also has ideas on how to improve the policy on children in the country. For instance, back in May, the ruling party came up with a project named “Kindergartens – for kids”.

The point of the program is to return to children buildings that had previously been used as kindergartens, but were then occupied by commercial companies. As a result of such a short-sighted approach of previous years, there is a lack of nursery schools. For the country that sees improving of its demographic policy as one of key priorities, this is a real headache: many families can simply not afford to have children unless they can be sure their offspring will be guaranteed a place in childcare.

“Certain results have already been achieved in 60 regions,” Gryzlov said. “We will keep creating favorable conditions for private and family kindergartens.”

During the spring session, the State Duma is also expected to consider in the second reading the new Law on Police. On December 10, after months of the first-ever nationwide debate on the matter, the lower house passed in the first reading the Kremlin bill aimed at creating a modern and efficient police force.

“The second reading of the bill is held to discuss amendments, while the main concept of the bill is approved in the first reading,” Gryzlov explained.

The ruling party chairman observed that the idea of launching a wide public discussion of new bills proved to be a success and such experience will be used in the future. Next in line is a new law on education. The bill is currently open for a discussion at a specially created website where Internet users can have their say.

“We need a new fundamental law that would not allow education sink in either minor or major problems,” Boris Gryzlov said. “We are building an innovative economy. And innovations require a high level of education. We should pay more attention to subjects that will help preserve our culture and history and, at the same time, to subjects that prepare [children] for a life in the new economy.”

Yet another burning issue for the entire country, roads and traffic are also on the agenda for 2011. According to Gryzlov, United Russia is currently working on several projects that should improve the situation. One of these, “New roads of United Russia”, is aimed at building new and reconstructing old roads.

The country’s leadership is on the verge of really busy season – the parliamentary election in 2011 and presidential vote in 2012. It is time for politicians to make new ambitious promises and for the citizens to evaluate which of those previously made have actually been fulfilled.