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Opening Remarks at a Meeting with New Federation Council Members

January 31, 2001, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

I am very glad of the opportunity to meet with you this afternoon. A new and effective team has joined the Russian the Federation Council’s upper house since we started reforming the Federation Council last year. This year, we will put as much effort into this work and hopefully will complete it.

The purpose of the reform that we discussed with Yegor Stroyev, Federation Council Speaker, is not just to delineate powers, important though it is, but also to improve the work of the Federation Council as a whole, and of its upper house. What we need to do is help the regional representatives find a balance between focusing on their regions’ problems and their work as members of the Federation Council, which requires an understanding of current issues and priorities pertaining to the country as a whole. It is certainly not easy for regional governors to combine the two roles, to run their regions and engage in national lawmaking.

Let me emphasise that the scheme we finally devised is perfectly in line with Russia’s Constitution, which is essential.

Speaking of the old Federation Council members, I would like to point out that it has been difficult for your colleagues to combine the two roles until now. Even so, they have done a lot of lawmaking work. It would be a pity if it was wasted because of a failure during your take-over. They have drafted a large package of important bills.

I also hope that you will forge constructive business contacts with your partners in the Government and the State Duma. It is very important because your results will largely depend on that cooperation. The top priorities here are the Labour and Land Codes, of course.

Also there are regulatory problems pertaining to your work. I mean the need to make relevant amendments to the procedure which would guarantee your status as Federation Council members. While former upper house members enjoyed certain rights, you should be able to perform your functions and use the relevant tools, even without being regional Governors.

You will be entirely responsible for a specific part of policy-making, the legal framework for Russia’s international activities and national security issues. I hope you will cooperate intensively with Russia’s Security Council and the Government in this sphere. This especially concerns such important aspects as upholding international peace and peacekeeping operations.

The current Federation Council leaders are experienced people who have been working effectively for a long time, even though they had to combine the two roles all along.

I am convinced that Yegor Stroyev will spare no effort to help new members smoothly join in the Federation Council’s work and see that the upper house works without a hitch.

As for myself, I will always be available for consultation and advice. I will be happy to answer any questions you might have and to use the opportunity to discuss current issues.

January 31, 2001, The Kremlin, Moscow