President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, this is our third meeting in what has become a series of regular meetings now. You have sent me your nominations of a number of candidates [for the posts of regional governors], but I have not made any actual appointments yet, not presented any candidates to the [regions’] legislative assemblies for confirmation yet. Of course, these are legal procedures to be followed, and so when the set deadline comes, I will examine all of your nominations, make my choice and submit my proposals to the regional legislative assemblies.
We have before us today three regions where the governors are coming to the end of their terms: the Komi Republic, the Republic of Mari El, and Volgograd Region. You will make your proposals known.
Before discussing the actual candidates, whose names you will submit to me in accordance with the rules, I want to say that yesterday was an important day. Local elections took place in a number of the country’s regions.
I think the elections were well-organised and show that the election campaign complied with all the legal requirements. The preliminary results are already known. As far as I know, United Russia has obtained the majority everywhere. I congratulate you, as the party’s leader, on this victory.
Chairman of United Russia Party Boris Gryzlov: Thank you.
Dmitry Medvedev: This is not just a convincing victory, and not just evidence of the authority your party has built up with our citizens over these last years. It also makes you responsible for carrying out the work voters have entrusted in you. The party has proven today that it has not only the moral but also the legal right to form the executive government bodies in the regions, and yesterday’s election results convincingly confirm this.
We will discuss the results further and look at other matters too. I wanted to note several other points of considerable importance for our country. Elections were held in two regions, Chechnya and Ingushetia, where, for a number of political and other reasons, local self-government bodies had not previously been formed. The elections went smoothly and demonstrated that people in these two republics want to take part in establishing local government bodies. This is probably the most important result. This means that our local government system will now be in place throughout the entire country. This is a long-awaited event and is something we have worked on for a long time and not without problems on the way.
The local self-government reform has taken our local government system to a new level of effectiveness. Of course, there are still many problems to resolve, financial and human resources issues, but we have a functioning system nevertheless, and it is pleasing to see that it now covers the entire country.
We have other matters to discuss too, but let’s start with the most interesting – the candidates for regional governor in Komi, Mari El and Volgograd Region.
(Boris Gryzlov presented the party’s nominations. Answering the President’s question, Mr Gryzlov said that all of the candidates are members of United Russia, with the exception of incumbent Governor of Volgograd Region Nikolai Maksyuta, who was a member of the Russian Communist Party but has suspended his membership).
Dmitry Medvedev: We did not discuss this, but it perhaps could be of interest for the media. Overall, does the party think it possible to nominate for the post of regional governor a candidate who belongs to a different party, or does United Russia rule out this possibility?
Boris Gryzlov: The election results show that United Russia has a confident lead and has won more than half of the votes. Let’s look at a hypothetical situation when United Russia wins the election but rather than getting more than half of the votes gets 45–47 percent of the votes instead. In such a case, an alliance with other parties that have cleared the threshold for seats in the legislative assembly would of course be possible, and this could include discussion on a joint candidate for the post of governor of the region in question.
Dmitry Medvedev: This would be an additional incentive for our colleagues in the other parties to compete more actively and take a more active part in political life. It might not be possible to win a controlling stake or get the majority, but with more complex combinations possible, there would be a greater chance to obtain the post of regional governor.
Boris Gryzlov: This is certainly the case. Yesterday’s election results give United Russia enough of the vote to be able to nominate candidates on its own, and we will try to maintain this status in the future.
Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, of course, this is only natural for the party, and I am not trying to talk you into anything.
Boris Gryzlov: I just wanted to ask one question before we start discussing the candidates in more detail. My question concerns the Annual Address to the Federal Assembly. Your address in 2008 gave significant impetus to law-making work, and I think we have carried out the ideas put forward in the Address.
Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, you have done so, and I thank the party — and the State Duma in general — for this work.
Boris Gryzlov: Thank you for this assessment.