President Vladimir Putin has won the approval of parliament in his efforts to exercise greater control over Russia’s regions.
A bill presented today before the lower house or Duma was passed by a large majority. Other votes will be needed before the measure becomes law but today’s events clear the way for the Kremlin’s proposals. In future, it means regional governors would be appointed by Moscow and endorsed by local assemblies, rather than elected by voters as is the case now. The president would also be able to dissolve local parliaments if they twice fail to approve his choice. Vladimir Putin is justifying his reforms by the need to unite the world’s largest country against the “threat from international terrorism.” The changes come after the deadly Beslan school siege in southern Russia. But his liberal opponents argue that depriving people of the right to elect governors is another move by the Kremlin towards increasingly autocratic rule.