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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

There has been a lot of positive reports in the Russian media about the Public Chamber . Just to give some readers who are not familiar an overview. This is another one of these Putin ideas (or is it Vladislav Surkov's?) about giving society more input into government. My main criticisms are: it is appointed by the President and not elected from the society thus is not connected to any kind of public purpose. Second it is made up of a variety of entertainers, scientists, and famous Russian personalities who I would imagine do not represent the average Russian at all and cannot relate to the average Russian's daily struggle. Third, it lacks any powers to make or veto laws which makes it as powerfully as the Boyar Duma.

So basically Putin with his grip on Duma and every government structure felt bad about this huge consolidation of power in his hands and thus decided to give something back. Only he couldnt really give power so he merely created the illusion of public oversight with the Public Chamber. Having stifled all ability of the parliament to speak out against his policies and lacking any kind of independent advice the President thinks that the Public Chamber will fill the void. The problem is that not only has it shown to be another lame duck institution, it only has a few people out of 146 which know how to speak out against anything. The only public benefit derived from this whole exercise was the mediation it did between Moscow authorities and people who occupied and refused to give up their homes in the outskirts of Moscow so that Lushkov's wife could build more new Russian projects.

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