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“We have no desire to hinder the executive branch”
Not only the political results of the year - Khabarovsk speaker Sergei Lugovskoy
In September, the election of the governor of the Khabarovsk Territory victory after a fight in two rounds unexpectedly for many won the candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party, Sergei Furgal. The emergence of a new governor, of course, has already changed the political landscape in the region - and will continue to change it. How the arrival of a new team influences the relationship between the two branches of government - executive and legislative, - explains EastRussia’s leader of United Ukraine’s reunion, Chairman of the Legislative Council of the Khabarovsk Territory, Sergey Lugovskoy.
- The situation that everyone who follows the policy in the Khabarovsk Territory has heard is that the deputies of 21 November passed a draft law in the first reading, which gives the Duma the right to coordinate candidacies of senior government officials in the region - the vice-governor and deputy governors. The governor himself strongly opposed. Ahead of the adoption of amendments. Does the conflict remain hot?
- I have already said several times: the Duma did not want to initiate a conflict situation. A bill to harmonize key members of the government was introduced in order to share responsibility with the new cabinet - and for nothing else. Unfortunately, the story turned out to be noisy: with loud headlines in the media, including the federal level, and in social networks. All these stormy discussions, however, led away from the real essence of the bill. Many did not hear or did not want to hear that such a rule in the regional statutes existed before 2013, which we do not appoint, but coordinate the candidates, that the legislative assemblies of the 53 regions of Russia are in one way or another involved in the process of forming the executive bodies of power right is absent only from the Khabarovsk Territory Parliament and the Jewish Autonomous Region. We (the initiators of the project in the number of 13 deputies-United Russia were made by Sergey Lugovskoy. - EastRussia) were not primarily interested in politics: the party would not add this rating anyway, and the United Russia faction in the Duma did not.
- Is there not a drop of politics in this story? The project was introduced by United Russia, the new governor elected from the Liberal Democratic Party.
- The decision of the voters, who in the course of the governor’s campaign did not trust our candidate, but Sergei Furgal, reflects the current political realities of the Far East. We do not question this decision in any way, and tying up some kind of struggle of parties on the scale of a single region of Russia in the current situation is only “losing points”. Now there are many sensitive issues in the country that do not yet have a definitive solution that satisfies everyone, and voters see it all. Party rhetoric will not solve these problems.
- It seems that you mean that the general negative attitude of the voters, revealed in the last few campaigns in the country - are the consequences of the policy by no means regional?
- I will say this: for us, the deputies from the ruling party working in the field with people, it has been difficult to talk about positive lately, when a common federal agenda is rather negative. This includes pension reform, the increase in VAT, and other measures taken at the initiative of the country's leadership. It is clear that they are long overdue, that it was inevitable. But all this has seriously affected the mood of the voters. There is tension in the economy, including due to external factors, and this affects people's attitudes. In the Khabarovsk Territory, a general protest was expressed by the current governor, this is also obvious. At the congress of the party "United Russia", which was held 7-8 December, our region sounded in many speeches. We are analyzing our situation not only for us - the whole party organization. So the conclusions will be deep.
- Is it possible at the regional level to somehow “mitigate” the consequences of federal policy?
- There is always an opportunity, albeit minimal. In the case of the pension reform, for example, we adopted a package of amendments to regional legislation that linked benefits for paying for utility services not with the status of a pensioner, but with age, and the age remained the same from which we retired before the reform began. The regional norms for compensation of travel on public transport were similarly adjusted, the criterion of “neediness” was removed, the monthly payments were doubled (now they range from 720 to 1020 rubles). Nothing less, and the amount of this benefit for the regional budget next year will cost 3 billion rubles. We collected proposals on the party line. We were heard in questions about indigenous peoples, mothers with many children, and women who were originally planning to raise the retirement age by 8 years. I don't know how the situation will develop further, perhaps there will be some more changes.
- But it still goes, the subject can respond to such situations only in one way - with an additional “ruble” for the disaffected?
- Incentive payments are not distributed according to this principle. This is not just the restoration of social injustice - it includes development measures as well. In recent years, for example, the regional part of the “parent capital” has been increased. It has not been indexed since its adoption, since 2011. Yes, our maternity capital was one of the highest in the Far East - 200 thousand rubles, from January 1 the amount increases to 250 thousand. This is all in the amount of large expenditures, but, as we believe, will bear its fruits - even if not immediately.
- Did the defeat of the party candidate somehow affect you personally? On the eve of the congress, it was rumored that you would be "removed" from a party post.
- As you can see, I work.
- And what's next, how do you think? Hard permanent conflict?
- Once again about the conflict. We impose it. When we introduced a bill to approve key members of the government, there was a preliminary conversation with the new governor. There are certain procedures. Immediately after the elections, we met, not one on one, but we met with the deputies, said that this would be a normal element of the dialogue between the two branches of government, especially since Sergei Furgal promised to form a coalition government of all parties immediately after taking office. It is clear that the appointment of deputies is the prerogative of the governor. The Duma does not encroach on this right; it is only a question of sharing responsibility, of harmonization. There was no desire to prevent or restrict something. With similar language that sounded during the discussion of our initiative in the media, I never agreed.
- If, as you say, everything was agreed upon at first - why did something go wrong at some point?
- Already in the process of passing the official approval procedures, we saw the rejection of the executive branch. They did not escalate the situation, suspended the consideration of the question: if you remember, I myself lifted the bill from the agenda of the next meeting of the Duma - just to discuss everything further. If the head of the region had a desire to compromise, to propose another way, I think he would have realized it, there would be time. On the other hand, nobody took away the “veto” right from the governor. So far, we have a negative opinion of the governor on the entire package of amendments to the laws related to the coordination of deputy chairmen and vice-governor. In the first reading of the norm in the statute made. Next we will look at how to prescribe the norm, perhaps through the law on the government of the region.
- Let's go back to the idea of what's next. Now with this particular bill it turned out like this, the dispute is in the language of lawyers. But after all the thought and the government can disagree with each other for any reason. How not to stop the lawmaking mechanism?
- The Duma works as it did. We support many of the governor's proposals. The budget for the next year was recently adopted, although the deputies had a lot of questions for it. But we understand: the governor has just arrived, it's difficult to figure it out right away. There is a debt load formed in previous years - objective conditions. Leaving a region without a budget is unacceptable. It never occurs to anyone to put the question like this: since this is a legislative initiative of the governor, then we are blocking it. This is our shared responsibility. For the residents of the Khabarovsk Territory, there is no separation of powers by and large, although one can begin to enumerate for a long time what the Duma is "responsible for" and what the governor is for. We all answer equally.
- You are not blocking government initiatives. Is it yours?
- Mutual understanding is and will be. For example, we have a law on the redistribution of powers between the region and the municipalities. But there are urgent problems: some of the powers transferred, but without sources of funding. Questions of social importance, for example, the provision of firewood for the population or repair of roads. We tried to agree with the previous government on amendments to these norms, but did not receive support from the domestic policy bloc. The new governor, albeit verbally, confirmed that the problem must be solved. Collaboration is underway. We criticized, say, the draft budget, from which, as part of the overall optimization, some expenses fell out. The deputies say - these are sensitive issues that do not require large budget funding, and they need to be preserved. Of course, we will insist that this be included in the budget during its execution.
- But this does not exclude that fundamental disagreements may arise again?
- Probably, the issues on which the governor takes a position different from the position of the Duma, are inevitable. But we believe that in this case, too, have the right to express their position. And we express it.
- For the current Duma convocation, the concluding year is the last one before the 2019 elections of the year. In your opinion, what is the most important bill that passed “this composition”?
- We paid a lot of attention to the introduction of the patent system - I am sure this is not a complete story. There was an epic with the law on catching wild dogs. Long sought a special status for "children of wartime." Together with parliamentarians from other regions, the center was convinced that the issue of providing people with rare (orphan) diseases with medicines is a federal issue. We have done a lot of work on the creation of a new Far Eastern village in the Far Eastern hectares. And to name the most important law is probably unreal. Of course, the budget is always very important for the region. It has been difficult in recent years, it has been adopted next year, but it will no doubt be clarified under what circumstances - we have already spoken. I would like to hope that our wishes and initiatives on this issue will be heard by the executive branch, which, I am sure, will be a plus for her as well.