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Committee-ment: Medvedev pledges greater role for opposition

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said that most of committees in the lower house must be headed by parliamentary opposition figures in order to speed up the reform of the political system.

Speaking with representatives of freshly-elected parliamentary parties on Tuesday President Medvedev said that this will help to guarantee the rights of all political parties. “In order to guarantee the rights of all parties, we need a significant part of State Duma committees under control of the opposition rather than the ruling party,” Medvedev said. “Being the leader of United Russia’s elections list, I ask you to keep this in mind,” the President added.

Medvedev also called upon the parliamentarians to speed up the political system reform, saying that he has been doing the same thing over the past several years and no one could say that there were no bills approved to this end.

“We can make new decisions make resolute steps in order to get rid of the accumulated restrictions on political activity and not to allow the rift between different social groups and institutions,” he said.

The President also said that the parliament must continue to solve such urgent problems as economy modernization, solving social problems, boosting the well-being of the population and improving the nation’s defense.

“These questions must be resolved with attention to opinions from all sides,” the president said.

At the meeting, Medvedev also touched upon the alleged violations during the December 4 parliamentary vote. He stressed that election commissions and courts “must thoroughly examine all the complaints and respective appeals” and make fair decisions in cases where violations are revealed.

The head of state said that 117 complaints were submitted to the Central Election Commission on the Election Day.

The president also congratulated the United Russia party on getting the majority of seats in the lower house and the opposition on managing to strengthen its influence in the parliament.

Medvedev topped the election list of the United Russia, which is chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The voters’ support for the party has down compared to the 2007 poll. However, it still received almost 50 per cent of the votes. The three other parliamentary parties – Fair Russia, the Liberal-Democrats and the Communists – have not only retained their representation in the Duma, but also increased it.

“It’s a new situation. Not everyone was happy with the results of the expression of the popular will, but that is always the case,” Medvedev said.

On Tuesday, Medvedev also signed a decree on holding the first session of the State Duma of the sixth convocation on December 21.

A day later, on December 22, the Russian president will deliver his annual address to the Federal Assembly, which consists of the State Duma and the Federation Council.