President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues,
This is going to be an interesting meeting. Over the past four years I have been meeting regularly with representatives of parliamentary and non-parliamentary political parties, of which we don’t have too many. This is my second meeting with the leaders of political groups that are about to undergo state registration, and this meeting is being held in the expanded format: we have about 40 representatives of organising committees from very diverse political parties, from all sides of the political spectrum. Among those present – I know some of you – there are political heavyweights who have done a great deal for Russia’s political life in different periods, and there also are completely new people who are just starting out in politics.
In any case, I am very pleased that there are representatives of different political forces. Why is that? The answer is very simple. All of you represent the interests of our citizens and you do it each in your own way; you represent the interests that are already structured and those that are only appearing, using a wide variety of possibilities. I think in general this is a positive trend and it should be welcomed, if only because, every person in any political system is entitled to have the certainty that there is a political organisation representing his or her interests. This is the most important thing.
In my address [to the Federal Assembly] last year, I voiced the idea of improving our political system. I have no doubt that we are still at the very beginning of this process, and in general the political system’s development can never stop. Even the oldest, the most democratic political systems are still evolving. Our democracy is young and therefore our political system will develop regardless of who occupies which office.
”Every person in any political system is entitled to have the certainty that there is a political organisation representing his or her interests.“
I am glad that the law On Political Parties was drafted quickly and discussed by all political parties, both registered and unregistered. Amendments have been adopted, although as it always happens, not everyone was equally satisfied with them. But we’ll see. It is likely that this law, like many others, will continue to be improved.
In any case, I am pleased that the debate on the draft law was very active and different points of view were expressed. Let me remind you about something you know well: the law significantly reduced the minimum required number of members, from 40,000 to 500 people. Some tried to convince me that this number must be increased because otherwise we are likely to have many parties that inhabit the political fringe, the so-called political dwarfs. However, I believe that we must follow a normal, modern way, along with the whole world, and in most states the requirement for the minimum number of party members is nominal. That is why I insisted that this figure remained low. I am glad that the Federal Assembly has supported me in this.
The registration procedure for political parties has been made more flexible. As you know, the Justice Ministry now gives the parties three months to correct any errors that may have been made. In general, the Justice Ministry has altered its position to a certain extent. It should no longer be perceived as barrier troops, as the participants of our last meeting put it, but as a necessary filter to rule out legal mistakes. The refusal to register a political party must now be accompanied by a detailed explanation.
Parties will now use a simplified reporting system, including financial reports. Instead of an annual report to the Central Election Commission and the Justice Ministry, reports will now be submitted once every three years to the Central Election Commission, which, in my opinion, is much easier and probably fairer.
I am also pleased that our major political parties, our political giants, have extended their support for the draft law. Moreover, all parliamentary parties showed remarkable accord: they voted unanimously. This is a unique situation for our country and in general for Parliament. I think they were absolutely right, because even if some deputies criticised the draft law, in the end they decided that they could not be an obstacle to progress or be perceived as a stranglehold on democracy. Therefore, they voted for the draft law even though they may have thought that it was deficient in some way. I think it was a wise decision.
After I sign the law, it will enter into force. This will happen tomorrow, when it is published, and the Justice Ministry will shortly begin to apply the new rules in its work with you.
”Over the past few years, we have accomplished a great deal to improve our political system. Most importantly, we have created an environment for fair political competition.“
In order for the parties’ role to be comprehensive, I plan to introduce a number of other changes. In particular, a provision will be added to the Federal Law On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Rights of the Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum granting political parties the right to revoke election commission members whose appointment was approved following their proposals. Let me remind you that representatives of different political forces have repeatedly insisted on such a provision and I will submit this draft law to the State Duma.Over the past few years, we – and when I say we I mean all of us together because you were involved in the relevant decisions – have accomplished a great deal to improve our political system. Most importantly, we have created an environment for fair political competition.
Over the past few years, we – and when I say we I mean all of us together because you were involved in the relevant decisions – have accomplished a great deal to improve our political system. Most importantly, we have created an environment for fair political competition.
I would also like to mention an issue that you know as well as I do, and maybe even better: party building is not an end in itself but a tool with which a variety of tasks can be addressed. This must always be used for the benefit of Russian citizens, and the parties must become the institutions that can help people to participate in the formation of government, to execute control over the authorities, both in terms of their effectiveness and the legitimacy of decisions adopted by state power.
All of you present here have different political views. But there are values that must unite us, because we live in the same country and we are all citizens of the Russian Federation. These values are evident: our country’s security, justice, the rights and freedoms of our citizens, their welfare and standard of living. I urge you all to remember this, even in the most heated moments of political competition.
I want to wish you all good luck in politics, a field that is new to some of you and very familiar to others. I am confident that you will act in the interests of Russia and our people.
Not to stray from the topic, I have decided to make this event symbolic: I will sign the law in front of you. (Applause.)
Good luck to all of you!