President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear colleagues, dear Sergei Mikhailovich [Mironov].
As Sergei Mikhailovich said, today you will analyse the progress of reform of local self-administration and the task of its future legislative maintenance.
A year and a half have passed since the new edition of the law was adopted. And we must share our ideas about how ready the regions are for working with new structures of local self-administration.
It is clear that for a federal state such as the Russian Federation, local self-administration is one of the key institutions. And it is not just an institution of public power, but of social self-organisation.
Our country is enormous, and every region has its own traditions and its own unique living conditions. And people in the regions, especially in small towns and villages, know full well how to organise their lives better and more successfully, and how better to conduct their affairs. They only need help, and local self-administration is one of the most effective mechanisms created specially for this goal.
We attach primary importance to the development of local self-administration and intend to keep our finger on the pulse of reform constantly, and of course to react efficiently to all alarm signals which are possible in such extensive work.
Today it is no less important to examine the consequences of reform, which I would also ask to speak about openly. We are ready, if necessary – I would like to say this frankly – to correct all the statutes of the law which perhaps do not fit in to certain realities of life.
In connection with this, I believe that discussing this topic here, at the Council of legislators, is timely and extremely relevant, important and useful. You as the heads of legislative bodies of Federation regions are well aware of all the pitfalls that have arisen in preparatory work, and have already clarified the pluses and potential minuses, the potential danger of this work and of upcoming changes.
We must analyse whether all the regions are equally ready for these changes. The most important thing in this process is not a coercive approach, but a sensible, voluntary move towards an effective system of running the country.
It is clear that not everyone wants to change the existing state of affairs. Different arguments are used, including the well-known argument about the need to maintain “stability”. But at the same time, it must be said that this mainly involves maintaining convenient, customary schemes of administration, which are not always the most effective. We must aim for the entire system of local self-administration to work effectively and bring benefits to people.
I would also like to note that the process of strengthening executive power that is currently underway cannot and must not be a hindrance to full realisation of the law on local self-administration.
I would remind you that it rests upon the direct norms of the Russian Constitution, on the requirements of life itself, on the principles of democracy and on the statutes of the European charter of local self-administration that we have ratified.
Another important feature of reform is its complexity. As you know, it entails structuring institutions of local self-administration and solving the most relevant economic tasks. But the most important thing is that the changes are directed towards broadening the immediate, direct participation of citizens in all spheres of local life, on the growth of influence and increase of control by residents of territories over the actions of the municipal power elected by them.
All this, of course, does not exclude discussion of possible shortcomings of the new law, of pitfalls in its realisation. This is particularly true if we remember the diversity of Russian regions. But the preparatory period should show how expedient a unified approach to the system of local self-administration is in this country.
Furthermore, the effectiveness of reform should be ensured by adequate legal regulation and the necessary financial resources.
It is clear that inter-budgetary relations will also change significantly. Above all at the intra-regional level. Many experts are already talking about the complexity and labour-intensiveness of this work. But this only requires additional efforts, and our own ability to reach a balance in mutual relations between regional and local power.
I am sure that you understand all the nuances of this work. I expect that these and other issues will be the topic of our discussion today. Heads of bodies of power from the Stavropol and the Novosibirsk Regions will also share their experience. I know that in some other regions this law is already being realised.
I would like to wish you successful work and count on serious activity not just during today’s discussion, but also in our joint work in realising these issues.
Thank you very much for your attention.