President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Prokhorov, given your new capacity, we will discuss not how to develop Russian business, but how to develop our country’s political system.
I am holding consultations with the leaders of the various political parties. On Saturday, you were elected leader of the Right Cause Party, and so I propose that we discuss any relevant issues now, but in particular ways to develop our electoral system and political system, as these are the matters I have been discussing with the leaders of the other parties — the parliamentary parties, and parties not currently represented in the parliament. What are your ideas here?
Leader of Right Cause Party Mikhail Prokhorov: I outlined my ideas at the party congress. We think the main priority for any system is to ensure that problems are solved there, where they arise.
I think our country is excessively centralised at the moment. We need more decentralisation, because this will make it easier to solve the various problems our people encounter.
To this end we propose making 25 percent of the seats in the State Duma single mandate seats so as to give talented people the chance to enter parliament without having to go through political parties.
We also propose that if the regional governors are to remain appointed, they should be given greater powers for carrying out federal responsibilities in the regions.
We think that mayors and local self-government heads are the cornerstone in work to develop people’s quality of life. They do not have enough money at the moment to carry out their functions. We therefore propose changing the way funds are distributed between the different budgets, and to some extent even changing the tax system too, bolstering tax collection at the local level, so as to encourage effective mayors and local government heads in their efforts to resolve the tasks that are their responsibility.
In the interests of making the whole power system healthier in general, I think it would be useful to elect judicial and law enforcement system officials at the lower level – prosecutors, local police heads, and perhaps even local tax collectors. This way, alongside the officials on the various local boards, there would be officials elected by the local people themselves. This would make the system healthier, and would also serve as an important social lift to help people in their career aspirations.
Given that the city heads in Moscow and St Petersburg de-facto perform the same functions as mayors (they are the ones who decide the issues concerning the quality of life of people in these cities), I think it would be useful to restore elections of the heads of these two cities.
Dmitry Medvedev: I see. Your ideas correspond on some points with my own views. At the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, I spoke about the need to decentralise power and have already given the instruction to set up working groups in which the regional governors and local government heads will take part.
Some of your ideas are more radical in nature and require more reflection, but one thing is clear, and that is that centralised power in any country, even in as complex a federal state as Russia, cannot continue forever. There was a time when we had to ‘tighten the screws’ as it were, in order to get our institutions working and establish a state administration system capable of carrying out the instructions given, because the system had deteriorated during the 1990s, unfortunately. But of course, it’s one thing to ‘tighten the screws’, and another thing to turn them too far.
We need to look now at how to make our system – the power system, and the electoral system – less bureaucratic, freer, and less centralised at the national level and in the regions, and this includes looking at new ideas too, ideas that haven’t been discussed yet. All of the political parties should take part in this work, and I hope that Right Cause will get involved too.
As for the ideas you proposed, I will think about them.