24 december 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov

Mr Putin and Mr Mironov summarised the joint work of the Cabinet and the Federation Council over the past year. According to Mr Putin, this work was “very constructive” and displayed the “good practice of preliminary discussion with regard to the most acute issues.”

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Mironov, as we agreed, we are meeting at the end of the year to take stock of our work together. Now, I spoke with Mr Gryzlov about how the Cabinet structures its work with the State Duma. But for us, of course, it is important to work with the entire Federal Assembly, including the upper chamber, because in accordance with our Constitution, all cabinet initiatives must pass through two chambers. And we, as well as the State Duma, must verify the steps being taken on the economy and the public sector.

I would like to note at the beginning of our meeting that, in general, I consider our work very constructive. True, we know that Federation Council members will almost inevitably express their views on any issue under consideration, but we always manage to find a common solution. And in that line, we have instated – along with the State Duma – the good practice of preliminary discussion with regard to the most acute issues.

Sergei Mironov: Thank you, Mr Putin.  Thank you for evaluating the work of our chamber. Indeed, we are working very constructively with the Cabinet. I want to thank you especially for the special attention you paid to our chamber at the last Cabinet meeting. You drew the attention of Cabinet members to constructive joint efforts with our chamber. 

Vladimir Putin: We discussed this...

Sergei Mironov: Yes, thank you. I know that, and thank you for it. In short: the year-end results. The Federation Council reviewed a total of 436 laws – these were federal laws in addition to eight constitutional laws. The Federation Council rejected five laws, which were subsequently passed in new versions with the help of the State Duma.

Our work with the Cabinet is ongoing. Cabinet members and representatives regularly participate not only in plenary sessions – by the way, there were a total of 24 plenary sessions within the context of the “government hour” this year – but also meetings of committees and commissions. This makes it possible to review all bills at a preliminary stage – especially those that the Cabinet initiates and submits to the State Duma, which we review in the Federation Council.

Moreover, I want to inform you that we have been working together consistently for many years. We set about the task at hand in such a way that when a bill has only been introduced at the State Duma, but is not scheduled even for a first reading, the relevant committee at the Federation Council issues an independent conclusion. Our colleagues in the State Duma understand the principled position of the Federation Council. If we agree with a bill, they review the bill in three readings, and we pass it. But if we do not agree with a bill, then we propose its emendation before the first reading, and we also achieve positive results.

I would also like to note that the Federation Council is the chamber that represents the regions and, of course, is specifically active on their behalf. We carry out on-site meetings of committees and commissions in the regions in which we are working. In 2010, we successfully held the Neva Ecology Congress and a congress on road safety in St Petersburg. In Irkutsk, we conducted the Baikal Economic Forum. Moreover, we held a forum in Kostroma on the humanitarian aspects of historical memory and the history of our country. And, of course, this regional component is part of the work of our chamber, and we pay due attention to it.

As you know, we have been working for many, many years in the Legislative Council, which includes ex-officio chairmen of the legislative assemblies of all constituent entities of the Russian Federation. We hold meetings regularly, including meetings with the Russian President. This year, we began conducting on-site meetings of the Legislative Council. In November, we held a meeting in the Kaluga Region, and our colleagues from the regions were very pleased that we are willing not only to invite them to Moscow but to travel to their regions. This practice, of course, will continue.

I'm hopeful and even confident that in 2011, we will continue to work as constructively with the Cabinet as we did in the outgoing year.

Vladimir Putin: This is very important for us – in fact, it is one of the pillars of our success – especially in circumstances in which, despite the positive trends of the economy, we have not yet reached pre-crisis levels. Now and in the future, we will require swift decision-making. In this case, of course, we need your support in joint analytical work, but on our own, we have everything we need – both the time-tested practices and the effective cooperation we see almost on a daily basis. Each government meeting is attended by…

Sergei Mironov: …my deputies.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, your deputies. And they don’t just sit there; they express their views and their stances on issues considered appropriate for discussion. And over the course of our work, we, of course, try to take this into account.

Sergei Mironov: Thanks. My special thanks for that because my deputies report to me after each Cabinet meeting... and I thank you personally as the prime minister for giving them the floor on an equal footing with Cabinet members. They actually give speeches and talk about particular positions, especially when it comes to drafting legislative initiatives through the Cabinet.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding the regional work, perhaps here we could cooperate even more closely because, of course, we need to improve their development and the operations of the Ministry of Regional Development. In this regard, I can say that we could be more supportive of the work of the Federation Council in the regions. But the government would probably receive more useful information for decision-making if there were more direct dialogue with the regions.

Sergei Mironov: I think you're absolutely right. But I must say that we have a very close relationship with the Ministry of Regional Development, and we have really been working almost in synch. There is a very good practice of joint visits and joint review of various regional issues. But I think that we can certainly find new forms of participation for Federation Council members. As you have noticed, the fact is that the Federation Council and the Ministry of Regional Development generally work well together. But take, for example, a member of the Federation Council from a specific region: here, I believe, we need to build the bridges that you mentioned so that any programmes running through the Ministry of Regional Development, relatively speaking, can be patronised and supervised by members of the Federation Council representing the relevant region. That is what we need to work on.

Vladimir Putin: I think that if we were able to do that, we would increase the efficiency of our common work considerably.

Sergei Mironov: Let's consider it an assignment for next year.

Vladimir Putin: And now let's talk about this plan in more detail.