Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
I am glad to welcome you and I think our meeting – the first meeting in such a format – is very timely. We have long discussed the possibility of organising the work of the heads of regional legislatures at the federal level. And I know that the potential of the executives of that level – a very important and high level – has not been used fully in the past. I think it is very proper that the initiative has been launched by the Federation Council, because it represents the interests of the Russian regions at the federal level.
Effective work of regional lawmakers is necessary for the successful development of a democratic legal system and for the quality of government in our country. So it is important to review the most relevant problems that you face in your daily work.
The Federal Assembly and the legislative assemblies of the regions of the Federation have their own powers and responsibilities. So it is not a relationship of subordination. At the same time, the legislatures of different levels have a common cause, the creation of the legal framework for the country. So, there is everything to be said for the efforts to promote cooperation between them.
The lawmakers in the new Russia have done a tremendous amount of work. Within a short span of time they laid down the legal framework that made it possible to carry out some key government, political and economic reforms. The regional parliaments have played the key role in that.
Gone is the time when the regional parliaments drafting their laws largely copied what emanated from the Federal Assembly. Today they are not only developing and complementing the country’s legal framework, but often set an example of bold and competent lawmaking. Some regional laws become models of legislation. One should welcome such legislative initiative and active cooperation with the Federal Assembly. I expect that this form of cooperation will be mutually beneficial.
Meanwhile – and you know it at least as well as those who work permanently in Moscow – there are many problems in the legislative realm of the country. Lawmakers still often show legal carelessness and come up with decisions that have not been fully thought through. Different laws sometimes contradict each other and have to be amended even before they are enacted.
That is equally true of the federal laws and the laws passed by the regions of the Federation. So legislators at all levels face the task of overcoming these drawbacks.
Now I would like to draw your attention to some specific problems which must be addressed by our joint efforts.
First is the delimitation of powers between the levels of government. You know that an ad hoc commission has been created to look into these matters. We face a major challenge of improving federal legislation. And that also requires cooperation with the regional legislators. Indeed, not just cooperation but very profound and thorough joint work. It will be impossible to delimit the powers of the municipal and regional and higher authorities without your direct organisational and intellectual input. Therefore the immense responsibility and formidable task of further development of the Russian state is given to you.
Another common task is the development of local self-government which I have just mentioned. We are indebted to that level of government, so today supporting it is a major element of state policy. That too involves a great deal of lawmaking.
I would also like to draw your attention to the way the laws that you pass work and to the constant analysis of the law-enforcement practice. The success of the social and economic transformations in Russia, the well-being of all our citizens, the development of business and civil initiatives hinge on the technology and enforceability of the laws.
I am aware that it is a challenging area of work. But it is desperately needed. It is a real test of the ability of the lawmakers to listen to and to hear the arguments of those who enforce the law. It tests the ability of the deputies to take into account the opinions of people and the public position.
In connection with this, I would like to stress the role of the “hybrid” system of forming regional parliaments. It enables the political parties to promote the most competent candidates for the legislature. But the “hybrid” system can only be effective if the parties in the regions gain strength. A transition to that system should be well planned and prepared. There must be no undue haste, but I don’t think being slow makes sense either. Otherwise we will never have a genuine multi-party system and we will continue – at the regional and the federal level – to offer our people choices not between ideas and the associations they represent but between likeable and less likeable persons.
I believe that you are going to give a necessary share of attention to the issue of harmonising regional legislation with federal legislation. I would like to thank the regional lawmakers for their immense work they have already done; a staggering amount of serious, thoughtful and responsible work for the state.
That work was necessary for the regions themselves and for the country as a whole, above all because it helped to strengthen the state and form a common legal space in the country. It is important to prevent new discrepancies from appearing. I hope that your cooperation with the Federal Assembly and with each other – “horizontal cooperation among lawmakers” – will be mutually beneficial and will help to avoid this kind of pitfalls.
And the last thing. I know from my Plenipotentiary Envoys that as a rule you have been able to establish good working relationships with them. Not only do I welcome it, but I would like to stress that the Plenipotentiary Envoys have received express directions and are obliged to establish a relationship with the legislatures in the regions, and they are going to do it.
Thank you for your attention.