Medvedev vows reform after protests
MOSCOWPresident Dmitry Medvedev yesterday responded to the wave of protests over fraud-tainted elections by proposing a set of reforms to liberalize Russia’s political system, but sternly warned that the government won’t allow “provocateurs and extremists” to undermine stability.
In his last state of the nation address to both houses of parliament as president, Medvedev said he wanted to restore the election of governors who until now have been directly appointed by a Kremlin keen to keep a tight grip on power. “Today, at a new stage of development of our state, supporting the initiative proposed by our prime minister, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, I propose a comprehensive reform of our political system,” Medvedev said. He said that a group of 500 people representing more than half of Russia’s provinces would be allowed to register a party a procedure that would significantly simplify the current arcane procedure that makes it easy for authorities to deny registration to radical opposition groups. However, he said that Russia “needs democracy, not chaos” and that the government would strongly resist any foreign pressure. The statement follows massive rallies against fraud in the Dec. 4 vote, in which the main Kremlin party, United Russia, lost a quarter of its seats. Opposition leaders and independent election monitors said United Russia only managed to retain its majority by fraud.
Both Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Medvedev, who has been his loyal placeholder, firmly rejected the calls for a rerun, saying the vote reflected the people’s will. “We won’t allow provocateurs and extremists to drag society into their adventures, and we won’t allow any outside interference into our domestic affairs,” Medvedev said yesterday.
Compiiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff