Viktor Borovsky is chairman of Legislative Assembly of the Irkustsk region. His recent visit to Moscow, which finished Saturday night, witnessed serious changes in the federal center's relationship with the regions. It was probably the first time when a regional leader was able to directly discuss important questions with the supreme leadership of the country.
Q. Viktor, during your visit to Moscow, you met with some influential Russian politicians: with the Federal Assembly’s speaker and with the head of the Counting Chamber. Was this a typical business trip? Do you always have such opportunities to meet with the country’s leadership, or do these meetings prove that there is some progress in the relations of legislative regional authorities and of the federal power? A. In general, I came to take part in the work of Russian Manufacturers and Businessmen Union’s leadership. During this meeting, an interesting question was considered: the peculiarities of the 2001 rise in industrial output and the tasks of the union in securing stable economical growth. A report was made by ex-minister of economy, Yevgeny Yasin. It was interesting to hear his estimation of the 10-year phase of the reforms, interesting, because the question was about Irkutsk region.
Moreover, a senator from our region, Valentin Mezhevich, and I met with chairman of Federation Council Sergei Mironov and discussed issues of the Legislative Assembly and of Federation Council. The question is that in January, the State Duma gathered us – chairmen of regional Legislative Assemblies – and proposed an idea about the creation of a standing council of Legislative Assemblies’ chairmen by the Russian president. This decision had been made, so it was interesting for me how this question was being settled.
Q. So, what did Sergei Mironov say to you? This council has not been created yet.
A. You are right, the question is being settled. This question is very important, because the issue of coordination with the State Duma is settled. The Duma regularly sends schedules of its work and agendas three months before its sessions. This has already become a system. However, we never received information from Federation Council.
Now, when the Federation Council is becoming a standing institution, it is very important for us to establish normal business contacts with it. In other words, we should have the opportunity to work with it as we do it with the State Duma: to constantly receive schedules of the Federation Council’s work for the nearest three months, calendars, subjects of the sessions, and lists of bills that are being considered by Federation Council. All the questions were discussed at the meeting with Sergei Mironov. I could say that he is united with us regarding this question.
Q. It is probably connected with the reform of Federation Council that is in progress? A. Of course, it is directly connected with it. We should raise this question to show our interest in establishing these contacts.
Q. Can you say that this meeting was a breakthrough in the relationship to Federation Council? A. Of course it was. For, in executive power, governors monthly come to Moscow to take part in Federation Council sittings, directly contact the country’s leadership, and can effectively influence the settlement of issues in their regions. At the same time, regarding legislative power, we had not one meeting of the kind during the three years of my work as Legislative Assembly’s chairman, and the same could be said about legislative power of other regions.
Q. Who produced this initiative – to organize meetings in Federation Council, in the Counting Chamber? A. This initiative is mine. I gave a task to Valentin Mezhevich, a senator from the Irkutsk region, to organize this meeting. Speaking about the meeting itself, it was interesting enough. From the very beginning, I spoke about necessity to intensify coordinating the work of representative bodies, and not only in relations between Federation Council and Legislative Assemblies, but also the necessity to build a vertical between Legislative Assemblies and representative bodies of municipal institutions. It is necessary to work to organize seminars and meetings to make representative bodies of municipal institutions not feel separated from their colleagues from a higher hierarchy – from deputies of Legislative Assemblies.
Sergei Mironov agreed and said that he supports the creation of such vertical power structure, because it furthers strengthening the federation.
As for the council of law-enforcement bodies’ leaders by the president, which is being created now, Sergei Mironov confirmed that there was such a decree and this question was being studied now. There are only discords in the title: supreme council or standing council.
Q. Now, there is the State Council including governors? A. So, we need a title which would be not worse than the State Council. For example, “Supreme Council of Legislators.”
Q. Does the creation of such a structure signify that qualitative changes in the work of legislative bodies have been fixed?
A. Of course it does, as at least two times a year we will be able to meet with the president and to discuss actual questions.
Q. Did you meet with the Federation Council speaker for the first time? A. Yes. We never met before; however, Sergei Mironov has been to Irkutsk, and we worked in Mongolia in the same time.
Q. You have met with Counting Chamber’s chairman, Sergei Stepashin. Was it your first meeting? A. Yes, it was. We should raise the role of regional Controlling and Counting Chambers, while this process will depend on the Counting Chamber and on Sergei Stepashin personally. It was important for me to understand his position and whether he was interested in it or not. I found out that he was interested in the creation of vertical regional Counting Chambers. We started to speak about making the posts of regional Counting Chambers’ chairmen more stable. Now, they can be easily replaced, while they must work without being afraid of it, but according to real facts and to his duty.
Sergei Mironov agreed that this is an important state problem, though it can be solved. The bill is being considered at the moment.
Q. How could you characterize your relation to senators from Irkutsk region Valentin Mezhevich and Dmitry Mezentsev?
A. We have been effectively working with Mezhevich since the middle of March. He is an experienced senator, while Dmitry Mezentsev has been working only about a month. However, I hope we will successfully cooperate. According to Sergei Mironov, Mezentsev was unanimously elected to the senate.
Q. Do you have some legislative initiatives at the moment that have reached the State Duma, the Federation Council, or the president with the help of our senators?
A. Yes, we have. In January, a meeting took place and the standing Federation Council was created, so Sergei Mironov gave the task to the senators to promote initiatives. Now, only 0,6 percent of such initiatives become laws. Why? Because there was such a practice for a long time: we prepared a legislative initiative, sent it to the State Duma, and then it was not promoted by anybody. The document was simply lost there, while its path could not be observed. Now the regions’ representatives will observe every initiative. We are preparing our list of legislative initiatives, which will be sent to the State Duma and handed over to both of our representatives, so they can start to work at turning them into laws.
At the moment, 15 bills are being considered that we have created. However, we cannot say whether or not one of them will become law. The main problem is that the document’s passing is not being controlled in Moscow. This control will be executed by Federation Council’s members.
Q. Can State Duma deputies observe a bill's passing?
A. Deputies work on a constant base; they have their constant duties, while observing a bill's passing would be a kind of social work. While for the senators it will be a constant work.
Q. Therefore, you prepare documents, spend a lot of time and energy and send them, while this work is unnecessary? A. In a certain sense, you are right. However, such a situation is not only in the Irkutsk region, as it exists throughout Russia.
Q. In the press, there were reports that a youth chamber will be created by the Legislative Assembly of the Irkutsk region. What are the aims of this union? A. This bill was prepared by Commission on Standing Orders and Relations with Mass Media, leaded by Anton Romanov, and we probably will consider this bill. For the time being, I would prefer not to speak about it, because I have not seen this initiative yet.
Viktor Borovski was interviewed by Inna Semenova PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/02/09/36847.html