ROAR: United Russia curtails powers of rival party’s leader

The State Duma is considering legislation that may weaken the position of Sergey Mironov, speaker of the upper house of the parliament and head of the Fair Russia party.

The opposition Fair Russia party positions itself as a socially-oriented party and is often at odds with the ruling United Russia party on many issues.

The draft bill adopted in the first reading by the State Duma on Monday allows new members of the Federation Council to take up duties within ten days after their appointment.

According to the current order, a new member of the upper house, whose candidacy is approved by a regional parliament, has to wait until his powers are confirmed by the Federation Council. Many say the speaker may be interested in slowing down the process if a new member does not belong to his party.

“Many analysts believed that it made it possible for Mironov to influence the selection of colleagues in the upper house,” Vremya Novostey daily said. He already made it clear that he would vote against the legislation in its current version, the daily added.

Deputies of the lower house, where United Russia has a majority, have actually begun to cut Mironov’s powers, the paper noted. The ruling party may even gradually take over control of the Federation Council, it assumed.

The conflict between Mironov and the majority in the lower house is an inter-party one, the paper said. The Fair Russia party is trying to establish itself as a number two political organization after United Russia, “trying to push aside the Communist Party,” the daily noted. One of the main trump cards in this struggle is the situation of the Fair Russia, headed by “the third person in the state,” it stressed.

According to the paper, “a mini-faction of Fair Russia has emerged in the Federation Council, however, it is an unofficial one,” because the current regulations directly forbid the creation of party unions in the upper house.

Some new members on the Federation Council appointed by regional parliaments really have to wait for their authorities to be confirmed by the upper house, the daily said. At the same time, this fact does not affect the work of the Federation Council too much. Nor does it intervene in the regular practice of approving of most important bills adopted by the State Duma, the paper noted. The new legislation is likely to be approved as well, and, anyway, the last word belongs to the president, who will sign the bill.

Deputies from Mironov’s party in the State Duma voted against the new bill, Kommersant daily said. However, their explanations went far beyond administrative issues, reflecting a tense conflict between the two parties. Yelena Mizulina, in particular, stressed that the draft bill contradicts the Constitution and “may destabilize the work of the whole parliament,” the paper said.

Among other things, the speaker of the upper house will not be able to initiate early termination of members’ duties, the daily said. According to it, if the legislation is adopted, regional authorities will be “delivered from the patronage of the Federation Council.”

Andrey Isaev, a deputy from United Russia, noted that Fair Russia deputies “defend the administrative powers of the upper house’s speaker who, by accident, is their party leader,” the paper said.

Observers are considering the work on the new bill in the context of the party conflict between the two parties. In February, United Russia tried “to dismiss Mironov from the speaker’s post and now the party has limited itself to curtailing his powers,” Aleksey Makarkin of the Center for Political Technology told Vremya Novostey.

However, this move is unlikely to affect Fair Russia’s positions too much, the analyst said. “Mironov’s influence will be weakened, undoubtedly, but the main thing for the Fair Russia is that he remains the third leader in the state,” Makarkin added.

Sergey Borisov, Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT