(May 6, 2009) On April 23, 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed into law a series of amendments to federal laws that will affect the activities of political parties, the election of governors, and some issues of municipal self-government.
The amendment on gubernatorial elections transfers the right to recommend individuals to be nominated as candidates for the governor's office from the Administration of the President to the faction of the political party that has a majority in a given provincial legislature. The Russian President will select a nominee from among the candidates and recommend him for election, which in most cases will be conducted by the same people who recommended the candidate. Governors of all 83 of Russia's constituent components are elected by their provincial legislatures. Eighty-one of them are controlled by the United Russia party, which has a constitutional majority in the federal legislature and is led by the Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin.
Another amendment stipulates the procedure for the dismissal of mayors. According to a newly established procedure, a motion for the dismissal of presently inviolable heads of municipalities can be initiated by at least one-third of the local council members, and it must be approved by two-thirds of the voting members. (Decree No. 441 of April 23 of the Russian Federation President, ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA [government-owned daily newspaper, an official publication], Apr. 28, 2009, available at http://www.rg.ru/2009/04/28/ukaz-dok.html.)