"These measures don't have anything to do with the fight against terrorism."The plan was the latest move in a five-year campaign by Putin to consolidate power and neutralize potential opposition in the new Russia.Since coming into office at the end of 1999, Putin's government has taken over or closed all independent national television channels, established unrivaled dominance of both houses of parliament, reasserted control over the country's huge energy industry and jailed or driven into exile business tycoons who defied him. 13 -- President Vladimir Putin announced plans Monday for a "radically restructured" political system that would bolster his power by ending the popular election of governors and independent lawmakers, moves he portrayed as a response to this month's deadly seizure of a Russian school.
He talked in general terms about promoting citizen informants, banning extremist groups and prosecuting corrupt police officers.
And he offered a vaguely defined plan to create a "Public Chamber" that would oversee security agencies.
Dmitri Rogozin, head of the Motherland party, and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the Liberal Democrats, endorsed the changes.
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov denounced the measures, but he commands only half the Duma seats his party did when Putin came to power, so he has little ability to oppose them.
"Those who inspire, organize and carry out terrorist acts seek to bring about a disintegration of the country, to break up the state, to ruin Russia."His plans must go through parliament, but the Kremlin controls more than two-thirds of the legislature directly and two other political parties quickly endorsed the ideas.
Even the governors, who could lose their jobs, surrendered, either welcoming the plans or remaining silent.Even the governors with the most to lose chose not to resist. and democracy wasn't hurt by that," Gennady Khodyrev, the governor of Nizhny Novgorod, said in a telephone interview.The appointive system "existed at the beginning of the '90s . Asked if he was prepared to simply give up his office if Putin wanted him to, he said, "Of course I am, and I can explain why: If the president doesn't trust you, then you'll damage the region more than you'll benefit it." Other supporters argued simply that Russia should return to the days of central power.At the same time, the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, would consist only of members elected from party lists, meaning that political parties such as Putin's United Russia would exercise exclusive control over everyone who runs for election. The other 225 seats are divided up between parties based on the proportion of the vote they win in balloting by party.Under the current system, half of the 450 members of the Duma are elected in individual districts like members of the U. If a party wins 25 seats, then the first 25 names on its party list would be entitled to join the Duma.Only four parties qualified for seats in the party-list half of the Duma in elections in December -- United Russia, the Communists and two nationalist parties allied with the Kremlin, Motherland and the Liberal Democratic Party.