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Russia: New Procedure to Form the Parliament’s Upper Chamber

(Jan. 4, 2013) On January 1, 2013, the new Law on the Procedure to Form the Federation Council of the Russian Federation Federal Assembly (the country’s legislature) entered into force. (Federal Law No. 229 of December 3, 2012 [in Russian], ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA (Dec. 7, 2012) (official publication).) According to the Law, Russian Senators will participate in regional elections and must have an “impeccable reputation.” (Id.) The main goal of the newly established procedure is to strengthen connections between the legislators and the regions they represent. (Putin Made Senators “Semi-Elected” and Ordered Them to Have “Impeccable Reputations” [in Russian], NEWSRU.COM (Dec. 4, 2012).)

According to the Law, the Federation Council consists of two delegates from each Russian constituent component, one representing the given region’s legislative assembly and the other representing the provincial executive authorities. There will be two different election procedures, one for each type of member. (Federal Law No. 229, art. 1.1.) Candidates for the Senator from a constituent component’s legislature must be a member of the component region’s legislative assembly. He or she will be nominated as a candidate by the chairman of the regional legislative assembly, by one party faction represented in the assembly, or by at least one-fifth of the assembly members. Then, the regional legislative assembly will vote for one of the nominated candidates. (Id. art. 3.)

The second type of delegate to the Federation Council, the regional executive authority representative, will be appointed by the Governor of that constituent component. The delegate will be selected from among three people named by the candidates for the office of Governor. The winner of the gubernatorial election appoints one of the three he or she previously named to serve on the Federation Council. (Id. art. 4.)

According to the new Law, members of the Federation Council will work full time. They will be required to publish income declarations and will be prohibited from participation in commercial activities. (Id. art. 2.1) They must be at least 30 years of age and have lived permanently in the region they represent for at least five years before nomination. Members of the Council cannot form party factions or other political groups. (Id. art. 1.4)

Observers have not excluded the possibility of additional changes in the relevant legislation that would affect the procedures for election to the State Duma (lower house). (David Herszenhorn, Putin Orders Change in Election Rules, THE NEW YORK TIMES (Jan. 2, 2013).)