Russia: Medvedev urges bold political reforms


Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev: ''We will not accept any interference from the outside''

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Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed reinstating direct elections of regional governors, in a far-reaching plan for political reform.

Direct elections were abolished by his predecessor Vladimir Putin in 2004, since when the governors have been Kremlin appointees.

Mr Medvedev was addressing the full Russian parliament, live on television.

His speech comes after tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Moscow over alleged election abuses.

"We must give all active citizens the opportunity to take part in political life," Mr Medvedev said in his state of the nation speech - the last such speech before he steps down next March.

The procedure for registering political parties must be simplified, he continued.


It's clear the Russian authorities are saying that they've heard the anger of the people after the parliamentary elections and know that they are demanding change.

They're saying: trust us to implement that change.This way the authorities are hoping to dampen down the anti-government anger that's been swirling for the past two weeks.

Certainly these proposals would have been agreed with Prime Minister Putin, who talked about some of these things in his TV phone-in last week.

Mr Putin mentioned direct elections for regional governor and said it was important for the president to act as a filter. But the devil is in the detail.

"The presidential elections [next year] must be honest, transparent, responding to the requirements of legality and justice," he said.

But he warned that "provocateurs and extremists" would not be allowed to create divisions in society.

"Attempts to manipulate Russian citizens, to confuse them, stir up divisions in society are unacceptable," he said.

Another big opposition demonstration is expected on Saturday, amid continuing demands for a re-run of the 4 December parliamentary election.

The ruling party, United Russia, lost a quarter of its seats in the vote - a big slump in its support.

'Independent' television

The reforms proposed by Mr Medvedev included the creation of a "public" television channel free from state influence.

"None of the owners of this new media outlet should have a determining influence on any decision-making - neither the state nor a private owner," he said.

Russia's main television channels and many other media outlets are state-controlled. Critics accuse them of playing down the opposition protests.

Mr Medvedev also said he would introduce a draft law to change the system for registering a political party.

Registration would require the signatures of 500 people from at least half of all the country's regions. Currently the requirement is 40,000 signatures.

He also proposed that presidential candidates would need 300,000 signatures to register, instead of the current requirement of two million.

Party candidates in elections would require 100,000 signatures, instead of the current two million.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    40. SK. No, but they're supplying them to Syria, Iran, and countless other countries that have massacred their own people. Also, just to expand the perspective a little, the US gave shoulder fired AA missiles to the Afghan people who were being massacred by Soviet attack helicopters. The Soviets mowed down thousands of men, women and children, the Yanks just helped the people fight back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    38. alan - absolutely, but it appears that Soviet invasion caused schools and hospitals being built, while the recent NATO operation has made drug exports rise through the roof. And Russia isn't supplying advanced weapons (e.g. AA missiles) to the fanatics like US did back then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Gosh, everybody is in favor of reform. Not only Medvedev, but also Assad of Syria. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    To correct-In 1979 the Soviets sent in a special forces team(to 'assist' the Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan) who assassinated the president and his family,and installed a pro Moscow puppet leadership who subsequently 'requested' Soviet help.JFK- 'Freedom has many difficulties, and democracy is not perfect but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in' Good luck to Russians

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    "The difference is that the Russian army was invited into Afghanistan by the Afghan ruling body".

    The Afghan "ruling body" being the Afghan Communist Party, which was not elected by anybody but took control after the coup that killed the President in 1978. The Soviets then gave "fraternal assistance" much as they did in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    In the US we have seen and hear this kind of thing regularly and unfortunately the world knows far too well the end result, nothing but HOT AIR, so for Russia and Mr. Medvedev I can only hope you do not follow the US way and actually honor your words with action!

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Russia needs a new political policy with Poland and Germany. Since the 1980s, these three nations have not reached an accord to the end of the Post World War II era. There should be new trade agreement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    14. BluesBerry
    ''It seems to me that Putin & Medvedev are aiming to short-circuit colorful, external rabble-rousing while responding to legitimate, democratic concerns of Russian People.''

    Yet another very precise comment by BB.

    Putin's team is indeed an establishment but it meets opposition. Somehow different from the west where right to left, parties often have the same source of funding...

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Medvedev and Osborne separated at birth! He looks like George Osborne if Osborne spent a month on the slimfast programme and didn't sleep for a week. Needed to look at that picture twice as thought this was an article about the UK economy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    I'm not convinced about who is in control of Russia. Before Putin left the presidential seat, he transferred significant powers to the Prime Minister's position, which Medvedev will presumably hold if Putin is reelected. I'm even more curious about the idea of decentralization of selection of Governors, which Putin enacted. This is the second time (2009) Medvedev has pushed or made these reforms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    ship[ of fools
    there was the matter of 9/11 carried out by people trained and protected by that country - no invite was needed or asked for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    28. ship-of-fools
    ''The difference is that the Russian army was invited into Afghanistan by the Afghan ruling body.''

    Correct remark.

    ''Who has ever beaten the Afghans in the past? No-one.''

    Well, Greeks have beaten them. Alexander had divided his anyway small army and campaigned for 3 years there and subdued the region. They still remember us with affection 2300 years after...

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    I think the west should keep its nose out of Russian affairs, and stick its freedom and democracy and PC culture where the sun don't shine. Western leaders reign over a complete shambles in the social and economic sense and have no vantage point from which to point the finger at Russia. Better for them to sort their own countries out, and leave the Russian leadership to do the same in Russia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    27. Peter_Sym

    The difference is that the Russian army was invited into Afghanistan by the Afghan ruling body. I don't recall the same invitation being extended to the USA. Who has ever beaten the Afghans in the past? No-one. I see no evidence of the Pashtun/Taliban tribes submitting any time soon. Pres. Karzai is fearful of the Allied force leaving his fiefdom is doomed. Leave them alone now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    6. irk
    The US has no right to preach to Russia regarding electoral fraud. Bush and his mates on the Supreme Court stole the 2000 election by eliminating thousands of legitimate votes for Gore in Florida. Corruption at its worst and of course we all know what Bush did to Afghanistan,
    Thats the same Afghanistan that had been bombed flat by the Russians from '79-88?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Medvedev is just a puppet, and it is impossible to believe Putin. Until he is removed from power one way or another nothing will happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    a guy gets arrested, another guy already in the cell says watch out for the good cop bad cop routine, a cop walks in belts him drags him into a room shines a light in his eyes and slaps him about, taken bleeding back to the cell, he asks how long before the good cop comes in - he was the good cop says the old lag.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Oliver Hardy used to say to Stan Laurel "That's another fine mess you've got us into" It appears that the state is going to deal with its own shortcomings in a most democratic and even-handed manner. Yeah, right this is Putins Russia we're discussing here. Medvedev is simply the velvet glove over Putins iron fist. It's a bit like the "good cop - bad cop" scenario. It's laughable, it's Russia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Medvedev's statements can be taken with a ton of salt. The real power in Russia is Putin and so far he has shown little or no interest in making real changes.
    All this is window ressing in an effort to entice the voters back to United Russia and Putin- and presumably also to save Medvedev's own neck. He's unlikely to remain in power as prime minister after another bad election result for UR/Putin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Well he talks the talk, which is good, now let's see if he walks the walk.


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