23 Dec 2011

Political reforms proposed by Medvedev

12:26 pm on 23 December 2011

In a far-reaching plan for political reform, President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia has proposed reinstating direct elections of regional governors.

Direct elections were abolished by Vladimir Putin in 2004, and governors have been Kremlin appointees since then.

Mr Medvedev was addressing the full Russian parliament, live on television. It was his last such speech before he steps down next March.

The BBC reports another big opposition demonstration is expected on Saturday, amid continuing demands for a re-run of the parliamentary election on 4 December.

United Russia lost a quarter of its seats in the vote - which was a big slump in support for the ruling party.

Mr Medvedev also said he would introduce a draft law to change the system for registering a political party.

Registration would require the signatures of 500 people from at least half of all the country's regions. Currently the requirement is 40,000 signatures.

He also proposed that presidential candidates would need 300,000 signatures to register, instead of the current requirement of two million.

The BBC reports party candidates in elections would require 100,000 signatures, instead of the current two million.

Free TV too

Mr Medvedev also proposed the creation of a "public" television channel free from state influence.

Russia's main television channels and many other media outlets are state-controlled. Critics accuse them of playing down the opposition protests.