A controversial new law that would give greater control over Russia’s regions to President Vladimir Putin is being debated at the Duma.
The Russian Parliament is dominated by parties that back the Kremlin’s line and the changes are expected to sail through. But the proposals have sparked fury among some regional leaders and several western countries. Putin’s bill will give him the right to appoint governors, instead of them being elected by the people of the region. Controversially, Putin will also be able to dissolve local parliaments if they twice fail to approve his choice of governor. The Kremlin argues the changes mean the end of often fraudulent local elections. But critics, who have been staging demonstrations in Moscow, say the new legislation deprives people of the right to appoint their leaders. It is also being seen as another move by Putin towards increasingly autocratic rule. The Kremlin has been criticised for stifling a free media and imposing its control over the national parliament.