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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Self-Rule Reform Put Off Till '09

The State Duma agreed on Wednesday to delay a potentially unpopular Kremlin reform for self-governance until 2009 -- well after the 2007 parliamentary elections and the 2008 presidential vote.

The bill to delay the reform, which was introduced by United Russia deputies, received solid backing from other factions as it was passed in its second and third readings.

The self-rule reform was supposed to come into effect at the start of next year, but deputies were concerned that many regions were unprepared to absorb more power and that thrusting the additional responsibility upon them so soon would lead to chaos.

"It is a good reform, but at the moment the regions don't have the financial means to implement it," Rodina faction spokesman Sergei Butin said.

United Russia Deputy Mikhail Grishankov said only 30 percent to 40 percent of the regions were ready for the implementation of the reform, while the others had a long way to go, Interfax reported.

The reform, which is loosely based on Germany's self-governance laws, would introduce a two-tier system of municipal government and provide a rigid delineation of powers among federal, regional and local authorities. It would also more than double the number of municipalities by introducing self-rule to tens of thousands of villages.

To implement the reform the regions would need to organize thousands of elections for leaders of settlements and municipal districts -- a change that is expected to require at least 200,000 new civil servants. The reform, devised by former Kremlin aide Dmitry Kozak and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in 2003, has been presented as a way to bring local government closer to the people by making it more accountable and ensuring that it sticks to its fiscal promises.