“Senators” vs. “Undesirables”

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The Russian Federation Council,* whose members have a penchant for calling themselves “senators,” even though they are not a popularly elected body nor a body known as a “senate.” This peculiar fashion has been picked up by the Russian media and, now, even some foreign media, thus reinforcing the fallacy that Russia is governed democratically. Photo courtesy of Izvestia and Zurab Dzhavakhadze

Media Learns about Idea to Expel People from Russia for “Undesirable Behavior”
RBC
September 4, 2017

The Federation Council’s Committee for Defending State Sovereignty and Preventing Interference in Russian Domestic Affairs [sic] has been drafting a law bill that would stipulate expulsion from Russia for “undesirable behavior.” Izvestia learned about the bill from sources in the parliament familiar with the drafting of the document.

Acccording to the newspaper, the penalty of expelling people from Russia for “undesirable behavior” would be stipulated by a law bill that could be tabled in the State Duma as early as next year. It would amend the current federal law “On Undesirable Organizations,” adopted two years earlier.

The newspaper’s sources said that expulsion for “undesirable behavior” would be applied to individuals, mostly foreigners. However, the sources noted the term could be applied to Russian citizens and legal entities.

The newspaper notes that “undesirability” would be determined by whether the actions of the persons caused real harm to Russia’s national security. It could be a matter of “inciting ethnic and religious hatred and political discord,” as well as potential interference in Russia’s electoral process. The newspaper likewise notes that “outside work” with Russian educational institutions and young people could be deemed “undesirable.”

According to the sources, several options for how the law would be applied were currently under consideration. One of them would involve empowering State Duma and Federation Council members with the capacity to send requests to the Prosecutor General’s Office to check whether a person’s activities were “undesirable.” If the audit turned up a violation, Russian citizens could be accountable. [sic] Foreigners, on the contrary, would be threatened with expulsion from the country.

Andrei Klimov, deputy chair of the Federation Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs confirmed that the amendments to the law were being drafted.

Translated by the Russian Reader

*Сritics of the Federation Council stress that it is an inherently undemocratic body made for regional elites, with little say from the Russian people. Since the reforms advocated and passed by President Putin in 2000, critics have also charged that the Council resembles more of a rubber stamp body for the Kremlin than an independent legislative body. Many senators are viewed as close allies of Putin and the United Russia party, despite rules which explicitly spell out that political factions are not allowed. Since Mironov’s rise in the Council in 2002, the Kremlin’s position on impending legislation is closely communicated to and coordinated with the Chairman and the committee and commission chairs. This top-down approach has meant that the Council votes with extreme efficiency, backing Kremlin positions on legislation nearly all of the time.

Critics also point to how long the Council convenes, meeting only one day every two weeks, speeding through legislative analysis and providing lop-sided majorities for each vote. Many blame this speedy legislation on the enormous influence the Kremlin exerts, who they charge have already instructed Council committee and commission chairs on how to vote. Several left-leaning State Duma deputies have lamented that Putin has stripped away the Federation Council’s last hold on checks and balances.

Since Putin’s restructuring of provincial executives in 2004, placing them under direct appointment by the Kremlin upon approval of their legislatures, federalist supporters have also charged the president in reducing the provincial role of the Federation Council. Where Yeltsin had envisioned a chamber [addressing] regional concerns, they argue, critics view Putin’s restructuring as deeply centralizing the Council to reflect the president’s and United Russia’s political interests, taking away provincial voices. Putin supporters counter these criticisms by acknowledging that Yeltsin had also appointed governors to Russia’s federal subjects in the early days of the Federation.

Source: Wikipedia

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