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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rybkin Hints New Council Will Support Reform Effort

Former Duma speaker Ivan Rybkin announced Thursday the newly created Political Advisory Council, of which he was named chairman by presidential decree Wednesday, would be a forum for "the 49 percent of Russian electors who have no voice in the Duma."

The council, whose structure, powers and personnel are as yet unclear, will represent the parties and movements who collectively attracted 49 percent of the vote in the December parliamentary elections but failed to clear the 5 percent barrier required to gain seats in the legislature, said Rybkin.

It will also include representation from mainstream Duma factions and "experts." Its role will be to advise both the Duma and the president on the formulation of legislation, and its funding will come from the presidential staff budget.

"All social groups have to be represented at the highest levels of power," said Rybkin, whose pro-reformist bloc was one of 39 registered parties to fail the 5 percent criterion. "Our president has to be the president of all Russians."

Rybkin stressed that all parties would be welcome to participate in the council, but left little doubt that the council's support came from the president and the broadly pro-reformist side of the political spectrum.

"[The Communists] have spoken often of a party or council of national accord," said Rybkin. "But people forget that in April 1995, Aman Tuleyev and [Gennady] Zyuganov refused to sign the Duma charter on national reconciliation."

Calling the Communist faction in the Duma "a noisy minority," Rybkin said that the current makeup of the State Duma did not reflect "the real correlation of forces and moods in society."

In a thinly veiled attack on parliament's left faction, Rybkin criticized "elements" of the Duma for blocking legislation, promoting provocative legislation and exceeding their powers.

He said the Council would be a place where the legislature and the executive could meet to reach "an agreement of interests," a hint that President Boris Yeltsin may allow the Advisory Council to gain influence in order to marginalize to Communist-dominated Duma.

The council will have a broader brief than existing consultative committees which currently advise both Duma legislators and the president on legislative questions, said Rybkin, and will include experts from the Russian Civil Service Academy and the Institute of Legislation and Comparative Jurisprudence.