President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Nikolai Vladimirovich, we are about to enter a new stage in municipal reform in our country, or to be more precise, the basic law on municipal development is about to enter fully into force.
A great deal of preparatory work has been carried out. I began working on this when I was Chief of Staff of the President Executive Office. We realised how complicated this is for our country and what difficulties and problems are involved, and this is why the transition to the new municipal system was stretched out over several years.
I know that your party has also paid a lot of attention to this work. How ready do you think the municipalities are now to work according to the new principles, what problems still remain, and what proposals do you have for improving the legislation on municipal development in the country?
Leader of the Fair Russia Faction In the State Duma Nikolai Levichev: Out in the municipalities where people’s real lives are taking place one law is not enough to sort out all the problems in municipal life. It is very important to understand who is working in the local self-government bodies and might later move on to work at regional and federal level. I think that this is an area where the political parties could work, and a chance for them to increase their social role and responsibility. I would like to see a real multiparty system develop here, at the grass-roots level. This would probably greatly improve the human resource base for the political parties and make it better prepared to take on the tasks of anti-corruption work, public control and so on.
We plan to hold a congress of municipal deputies from Fair Russia this autumn. But I think this is a national issue and perhaps even a matter on which the different political parties could achieve consensus, at least regarding ways of working with active members of the public above all in the places where they live and work.
Dmitry Medvedev: I cannot but agree with you. At the moment, unfortunately, the people working in the municipalities do not always have the best preparation, but this is where people live, this is where they encounter all the main problems of daily life: housing and utilities, education, healthcare. This is the epicentre of ordinary daily life. Unfortunately, we only began working on training for municipal officials quite recently. What’s more, it is no secret that people do not move up the career ladder immediately, and as a rule it is the best qualified people who move up (on to regional or federal level), but we need to have skilled and well trained managers at municipal level too. This is precisely an issue the parties could resolve together. What do you think?
Nikolai Levichev: I think it would be good to make the Russian Academy of Federal Service open and accessible not to civil servants but to activists from all parties, at least from the parties represented in parliament.
Dmitry Medvedev: Let’s think about this.