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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Federation Council Talks Fail




Talks between the two chambers of parliament collapsed Friday, setting the stage for the State Duma to override the Federation Council's veto of the bill reconfiguring the upper house and stripping the governors of many of their powers.


Duma Deputy Valery Grebennikov, co-chairman of the conciliatory commission, told reporters the commission had passed 12 of the 13 amendments proposed by the Federation Council. But Duma deputies balked at giving the governors the power to recall their region's representatives to the upper house.


Under President Vladimir Putin's bill, part of his plan to increase Kremlin control over the regions, the governors would be deprived of their seats in the Federation Council and would appoint representatives.


Oleg Morozov, head of the Russia's Regions faction in the Duma, said the talks ended "in total collapse." On Wednesday, the Duma is likely to return to the original legislation, which is even harder on the governors, and override their veto.


"The Duma is capable of mastering the 300 votes [necessary to override the veto]," Morozov said in comments on NTV television. "There was a possibility for compromise; now it has disappeared."


Members of the Federation Council, however, said they hoped the Duma would take into account the amendments approved by the commission. Vladimir Platonov, deputy speaker of the Federation Council, said the commission's work was "very successful" and the bill has become "beautiful."


But Duma representatives said it would be against the Duma's bylaws to adopt the amendments since no compromise was reached. "The only option now is to return to the first draft," said Viktor Pokhmelkin, deputy leader of the Union of Right Forces faction, on television.


There are, nonetheless, other possible options. One unlikely option is for the Duma to order the creation of a new conciliatory commission to begin talks all over again.


Another option, NTV reported, was voiced Friday by Boris Gryzlov, head of the pro-Kremlin Unity faction. Gryzlov said if the Duma votes to override the veto, Putin may choose not to sign the bill into law but instead push for another conciliatory commission to be set up in hope of finding a compromise.


Putin said Friday the aim was not to weaken the regions. "Nobody wants to weaken the regions politically or economically," he was quoted by Interfax as saying. "The governors should remain a strong link in the chain, but the process of weakening the federal center must be stopped."