The spring session of the state Duma: the renovation of the legislative process

The spring session of the state Duma: the renovation of the legislative process


MOSCOW, July 21. /TASS/. The state Duma of the seventh convocation ends Friday spring session. The outgoing season was one of the longest in the recent history of the chamber of deputies for the first time, finish the job in the third, and not in the first week of July. In combination with a longer plenary sessions, skip, who now can only be at its own expense, such schedule and the pace of legislative activity demanded of the deputies, and officers of the chamber of endurance, and extreme concentration.

But in less than seven months, the deputies managed to more than halve the so-called legislative blockages that they got in the inheritance from predecessors, and also make a number of important documents. Among them – the most important law on the renovation of the housing stock of the capital, and the adoption of the oath to foreigners receiving Russian citizenship.

The renovation of the law

According to many observers, the most important, and revealing, from the standpoint of the new features of the legislative process, leaving the session was the work on resonant draft law on the renovation of residential buildings in the city.

After entering into the state Duma the first version of the document has caused many questions, including the heads of profile Duma committees; followed by protests. However, the leadership of the house, who took a principled position on the need for fixing the norms of direct action of the rights of the citizens managed to achieve consensus and enlist the support of the most acute critics of the document, among which were, for example, the Chairman of the Committee on housing spywares Galina Khovanskaya. “The hardest was the case, almost no one imagined that it will be possible to reach consensus, – said the speaker Vyacheslav Volodin in a recent interview to the First channel. But we came to the consensus that this was very important, especially on a topic such as renovation”.

Perhaps the culmination of a long and intense process of discussion of the bill were the parliamentary hearings on which deputies have invited 350 of Muscovites, whose houses were included in the list for voting on the renovation programme. For the first time so many ordinary citizens were invited to the plenary hall where they were able to Express concerns and doubts in connection with the future law. Many of them were personally answered by the mayor of the capital Sergey Sobyanin, who gave Khrushchev residents a variety of protections and denied speculation about the mechanisms for the implementation of the proposed rules.

The theme of renovation is to some extent “an indicator of the activities of the legislature,” said TASS President of the Center for strategic communications Dmitry Abzalov. He noticed that her authors and curators of improvements were deputies-odnomandatniki from Moscow, which in fact acted as “tools for the promotion of regional interests.” “The same [Nicholas] Potter, who was elected from the administrative DISTRICT and became one of the most active developers”, – the expert reminded. “Therefore, the renovation has opened the whole layer of regional initiatives, which were previously narrowed, because there was no tool for their development mandate,” he said.

The participation of citizens in the discussion of the bill on Okhotny Ryad, according to Abzalov, showed “greater adaptability and flexibility of the legislative process because it was able to find a place not only members of the various formats, but also the citizens themselves”. “Plus is also the possibility of a “sewer” of the protest, he said. – Protest groups see that instead of having to make a “four rings” around the state Duma, they can actually participate in the discussion.”

It is noteworthy that after the adoption of the law the state Duma has not lost interest and has established a working group on the protection of the rights and interests of the residents while implementing the renovation program, which was headed by Vice-speaker Peter Tolstoy. She has already held several meetings, which discussed including violations just in force the rules.

The oath of allegiance to Russia

Among the important documents adopted at this session, of course, is the law which introduces the obligation of taking the oath of citizenship of the Russian Federation, and defines the grounds for revocation convicted of terrorism and extremism. “I, name, have voluntarily and consciously taking Russian citizenship, sworn to uphold the Constitution and the legislation of the Russian Federation, rights and freedoms of its citizens, to perform the duties of the citizen of the Russian Federation for the benefit of the state and society to protect the freedom and independence of the Russian Federation, to be loyal to Russia, to respect its culture, history and traditions,” now those words must be spoken before obtaining a Russian passport.

The law also establishes that if the purpose of obtaining citizenship was the activity against the constitutional system of the Russian Federation and the person has violated the obligation to comply with Russian legislation, committed a crime, terrorist or extremist, it is understood as the submission of false information. “In effect the sentence of the court for these crimes would be grounds for revocation of a decision on granting citizenship of the Russian Federation”, – stressed the head of the Committee on legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov.

The same document removed obstacles for obtaining Russian citizenship for Ukrainians. Amendments, in particular, the prescribed application procedure (without providing supporting references from the competent national authorities) in case of refusal of citizenship of Ukraine for obtaining residence permits and passports in the Russian Federation.

New style of parliamentary diplomacy

The spring session of the state Duma was marked by the emergence of a new style of parliamentary diplomacy, the hallmark of which was a focus for discussion on specific applied subjects and the pursuit of tangible results.

The spectacular event was held in March trip to Syria, MPs and representatives of parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), including its Chairman Pedro Agramunt. Then the European politicians have been able not only to personally meet with the Syrian leadership and to hear the position of “second party”, which is often silenced in the Western media, but also to witness the real situation in the Republic. Subsequently, Agramunt was subjected to this harassment for this step on the part of some representatives of PACE, which launched the Ukrainian delegation. Volodin during the various presentations emphasized the absurdity of this situation and pointed out that “the crisis in the minds of those who believe that the way”.

To the obvious success of the chamber in the international sphere, of course, include the second meeting of speakers of parliaments of the countries of Eurasia, co-chair of which was Russia and South Korea. In Seoul Volodin held more than a dozen bilateral meetings, which were agreed including the holding of the parliamentary conference on security in Pakistan.

In addition, the state Duma repeatedly made appeals to the parliaments of the countries of the world in connection with acute issues of international agenda. In March, MPs demanded from the European colleagues to assess the actions of the Kiev authorities who allowed aggression against Russian banks in Ukraine. In April, Russian lawmakers called on the world parliaments and international parliamentary organizations to condemn the missile strikes the US on the Syrian air base in HOMS province. And at the end of the session, the chamber took synchronized statement together with the Knesset of Israel – condemning the decision on the demolition of Soviet monuments in Poland.

As explained by the head of the profile Committee, Leonid Levin, the document does not prohibit operation of anonymizers in principle, it only requires companies that provide such a service, “through them to restrict access to illegal information”.

Deputies also renewed the fight against Internet pirates by adopting a law on blocking the so-called mirror sites, where repeatedly placed the content with copyright infringement.

At the initiative of Federation Council members adopted a draft law on the measures against the proliferation of illegal SIM cards, aimed at combating the use of bogus passport data at the conclusion of contracts on granting of services of mobile communication.

In July the representatives of “United Russia” in the Duma introduced a bill requiring the social network during the day to remove at the request of users of illegal content. Amendments initiated as a “response to the challenges of modernity, namely the spreading of false, wrongful and defamatory to the honor and dignity in social networks,” said its author, Sergei Boyarsky, stressing that he and his colleagues took as a basis the experience of foreign colleagues, namely parliamentarians of Germany. The parliamentary majority supported the concept of this initiative, but soon the document was withdrawn and perenesen, the discussion will fall. Copying of foreign law “is unlikely to be effective in the framework of the Russian legal system”, said in this regard, Levin.

Work for the country and not on their PR

In General, the new principle of formation of the state Duma – half by party lists, half in majority constituencies – left a significant imprint on the organization of its work. A significant upgrade of the deputies, including through single-seat districts, many of whom had no experience of parliamentary work, was put before the leadership of the chamber the task of their active involvement in the legislative process.

At the beginning of work of new convocation of representatives of the parliamentary majority – “United Russia” – was held a kind of training. His aim was including familiarity of parliamentarians with the budget process: due to the postponement of the elections from December to September, new members barely coming to Okhotny Ryad, almost immediately had to dive into the work on the Federal budget, the draft of which the Russian government submitted to the state Duma in October. In addition, explained TASS a source in the state Duma, since the fraction of United Russia after the elections was renewed by 60%, study had become a kind of “team building for elected officials”.

The idea of “team building” is reflected in a new approach to the procedure of introducing bills introduced in the seventh convocation. The deputies recommended before making legislative initiatives to discuss them with their fractions. It was assumed that this would allow a cut off purely populist initiatives have little chance of being approved by the house and large to attract public attention to persons specific members with a view to discredit an entire ward in General.

As explained Vice-the speaker from LDPR Igor Lebedev, Volodin has advised all MPs not to work “on their PR” and make the bills, especially loud and affects almost the whole country, at the stage of discussion within the faction. He Volodin pointed out that no one has the right to limit people’s choices in their legislative initiative, and we are not talking about creating some “filters”. “But if the Deputy wants for his initiative voted by his faction, with the faction he discusses this initiative”, – he noted.

The lack of prior discussion on the factions even before the formal consideration by the house put an end to the noise which caused such ideas as the reburial of Lenin’s body, or a ban on the use of social networks for children up to 14 years. However, this approach did not save the Duma from a number of exotic legislative initiatives coming including from United Russia.

On the other hand, the preventive assessment of the bills, as introduced consolidated of any initiatives by representatives of different factions, the work of the expert councils and the Advisory Council on lawmaking determined according to the parliamentarians, the positive trends in the legislative process. So, according to the leader of the Duma United Russia Vladimir Vasiliev, the state Duma was “a constructive inter-factional cooperation,” in the first session of the seventh convocation, which enabled deputies of all factions, “listening to each other, to work together in the interests of the voters.” This trend has been developed in the second session of the seventh convocation.

At the same time, attempts to find a new approach to the process of reviewing the bills could not affect the quantitative characteristics. According to Volodina, the number of the seventh convocation is less than it was considered by their predecessors “over the same period, say, 2016.” However, he believes that “the race for numerical index” in this matter is not needed, and priority should be given to quality.

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