Speaker wants political parties out of upper house

St Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko (RIA Novosti / Vadim Zhernov)
Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko suggests suspending senators’ party membership for the time of their work in the upper house of the Russian parliament.

­“The upper and lower houses have different tasks. The lower house is made up of representatives of political parties, while the Federation Council is formed from representatives of the regions,” Matvienko told Izvestia daily. “We should be objective in our decisions, without looking back at our political positions.” 

However, she pointed out that “no one can forbid senators to be in sympathy with the ideas of this or that party”.

Former speaker of the Federation Council and ex-leader of the Fair Russia party Sergey Mironov had also supported the idea of suspending party membership for upper house members. Nevertheless, he had not put the idea into practice. 

Valentina Matvienko noted that, intentionally or not, her predecessor used his position of speaker in the interests of his political power.

“No doubt the position of [Federation Council] chairman worked well for his image of party leader and for Fair Russia in general,” she said. “And when Sergey Mironov voiced his stance as party leader, naturally his words were also perceived as a statement from the Federation Council head.”

Valentina Matvienko added that it would be dishonest not to mention that the administrative resources of the upper house were used in the interests of the party. 

“I don’t want to give specific examples, although I have plenty of them. But the fact that the Federation Council chairman was a party leader was to the detriment of the common work. The Federation Council should not be associated with parties,” she concluded.