State Council Discusses Political Reform
On Friday, the State Council convened a session in the Kremlin dedicated to the development of Russia’s political system. Representatives of all registered political parties attended, including those without parliamentary representation.
The idea for the session was reportedly related to the opposition’s boycott of parliament last fall to protest alleged vote rigging in municipal and regional elections.
Commenting on the session, political scientist Vladimir Pribylovsky expresses doubts that the leadership genuinely supports reform. “It seems to me that this is another demonstration of good intentions, something which President Medvedev is very good at," he tells RFE/RL. "I think that the recommendations made at the session for the most part will be ignored… It’s not reform, but a coat of paint on the façade, so to speak.”
Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin and historian Rafail Ganelin also comment.
Whistleblower Dymovsky Charged and Imprisoned
Former police major Aleksei Dymovsky, who brought attention to police corruption in a video appeal to President Medvedev that was posted on the Internet, was arrested January 22 on charges of perversion of justice and fraud.
Civil rights activist Vadim Karastelev tells RFE/RL that Dymovsky was summoned for questioning by the Investigation Committee in the town of Novorossiisk. He was then informed that a district court would review his case 40 minutes later. At the court hearing Dymovsky was formally charged, including an additional charge of allegedly exerting pressure on a witness. He was then transported to a prison in Krasnodar.
“They’re afraid that Dymovsky, by setting an example, will influence others to tell the truth about what is happening within the Ministry of Interior,” Karastelev says.
Tatarstan President To Step Down
President of Tatarstan Mintimir Shaimiyev has asked President Medvedev not to nominate him for another term, saying, “It’s essential to give the young generation of politicians the opportunity to prove themselves.”
In addition to Shaimaiyev, the party of power, United Russia, had proposed speaker of the Tartarstan parliament Farid Mukhametshin and the republic’s prime minister Rustan Minnikhanov as candidates for the presidency. According to this report, Medvedev has already decided to nominate Minnikhanov.
Ruslan Zinatullin, head of the Tatarstan branch of the Yabloko Party, said that appointment of Minnikhanov would not change anything in the republic. “The government in Tatarstan is a corporation," he says. "It’s comprised of the principles of ethnicity and association. When a different person from the same clan is appointed, no big changes or breakthroughs should be expected.”