&to=http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/88/353/12157_Putin.html' target=_blank>President Vladimir Putin on Monday demanded an overhaul of Russia's political system, including an end to the direct popular election of governors, saying the changes were needed to combat terrorism.
Critics charged the Russian leader was using the bloody outcome of the Beslan school siege to grab more power. President &to=http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/88/350/14203_Putin.html' target=_blank>Vladimir Putin on Monday demanded an overhaul of Russia's political system, including an end to the direct popular election of governors, saying the changes were needed to combat terrorism. Critics charged the Russian leader was using the bloody outcome of the Beslan school siege to grab more power, reports Indy Star.
According to The Globe and Mail, Mr. Putin said the entire country needs to be mobilized to fight terrorism after a series of attacks that have killed 450 people over the past three weeks, including the Beslan hostage taking, a &to=http://english.pravda.ru/accidents/21/96/382/11987_metro.html' target=_blank>suicide bombing in Moscow and the downing of two passenger airliners.
"The organizers and perpetrators of the terror attack are aiming at the disintegration of the state, the breakup of Russia," he said at the meeting, which was held in Russia's House of Government, more commonly known as the White House. "I am convinced that a united country is the most important condition for victory over terror." Mr. Putin called for the creation of a single, powerful agency charged with fighting terrorism and repeated his assertion that Russia has the right to strike at "terrorist bases" anywhere in the world.
In eliminating the election of governors, Putin would formally take charge of naming administrators of the 89 regions that make up the Russian Federation.
Since succeeding &to=http://english.pravda.ru/society/2002/07/17/32650.html' target=_blank>Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first democratically elected president, on New Year's Eve 1999, Putin has constantly worked to rein in independent-minded governors, who under his predecessor frequently defied Moscow's authority.
Putin's plan to restructure the State Duma would strengthen the power of his party, United Russia, and the surrogate or allied parties dominated by the Kremlin.
Under the current system, half the 450 members are elected in individual districts and the other half from party lists according to the share of the vote each party gets.
Under the party list, or proportional system, political structures such as United Russia carry far more sway. Russia's only two Western-oriented democratic parties, Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces, were knocked out in party-list voting in December's election after failing to gain the minimum number of votes required, The Seattle Times said.
Negotiations are underway on the use of airfields in Cuba, Venezuela and Algeria. South Africa, Syria and Egypt are likely to join the list