The Communist caucus in the State Duma is proposing a scheme in which all decisions of Russia’s most influential state body – the Presidential Administration – would require parliamentary approval to come into force.
In the initiative, which has already been submitted to the lower house in the form of constitutional amendments, the lawmakers claim that in Russia the Presidential Administration has authority far beyond the simple bureaucratic support of the president’s functions. It is broadly perceived as an independent state body with wide-ranging powers and therefore, the Communist MPs deem it reasonable to detail these powers in the Constitution.
Currently, the Presidential Administration is mentioned only once in the Constitution. The reference reads that the body should be formed personally by the president. It was created in 1991 by the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, for analysis of the political situation and preparation of various presidential bills and decrees. It is also in charge of the interaction between the president and Russian and foreign politicians, political parties and other organizations.
The president can change the structure of his administration and its current objectives by special orders. However, as these objectives can touch upon the interaction with other power bodies and agencies, and seriously influence the domestic and foreign policy of the Russian state, the Communists say that such decrees should always be coordinated with the parliament.
Such changes would make the status of the presidential administration more solid and also contribute to the general democracy of the Russian state construction, they claim.
This is not the first Communist attack on Presidential Administration. In September 2013, longtime party leader Gennady Zyuganov urged MPs to prepare and pass a separate law on it. In a heated speech, Zyuganov likened the presidential staff to the all-powerful Central Party Committee of the Soviet era, adding that even then the Central Committee was controlled by the Politburo.
Back then the Kremlin opposed Zyuganov’s suggestion, albeit without any official statements. ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed source within the Presidential Administration as saying that it was successfully executing all its functions under the existing laws, and any additional regulations would only increase red tape.
The Kremlin has yet to comment on the Communists’ latest move.