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Russia: Upper House Agrees To Reduce Powers

Moscow, 26 July 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russia's regional leaders in the upper house of parliament have approved President Vladimir Putin's bill to reduce their powers and privileges. The Federation Council voted overwhelmingly for the bill, which, among other things, replaces the regional governors and heads of local legislatures who now make up the upper house with appointed legislators. It also strips the regional officials of immunity from criminal prosecution, and is part of Putin's efforts to tighten his grip on Russia's far-flung regions. The bill was approved by the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, last week.

The Federation Council today is also debating a new tax code that includes a flat 13 percent income tax. Putin met with Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroyev before today's session, but no details of the meeting were released.