During its meeting in Oslo, Norway, on 3 July 2019, the Monitoring Committee approved a draft report on the situation of local and regional democracy in the Russian Federation, following two monitoring visits in October 2018 and March 2019.
Co-rapporteurs Jakob Wienen (Netherlands, EPP/CCE) and Stewart Dickson (United Kingdom, ILDG) praised the fact that the principle of local self-government is recognised both in the Constitution and in ordinary law. Progress since the last Congress recommendation in 2010 has also been highlighted, such as the reduction of the minimum number of members required for the registration of political parties, the variety of tools for citizen participation and the respect for the cultural and educational rights of ethnolinguistic groups.
After recalling the administrative and territorial specificity of the Russian Federation, the co-rapporteurs nevertheless expressed their concern on several points, in particular the limited freedom for independent and opposition candidates to run for local and regional elections, due to the requirement to collect a large number of supporting signatures, a provision the Congress calls for to be repealed.
The co-rapporteurs also stressed the need to clarify the distribution of competences between the different levels of governance by increasing the share of responsibilities and resources specific to local authorities. In addition, the possibility, introduced in 2012, of replacing the election of a mayor with a system of appointment by federal assemblies is of concern to the Congress and calls on the authorities to amend the legislation to ensure that voters elect mayors and to revoke the provisions allowing governors to dismiss mayors.
The draft report will be presented for adoption at the 37th Congress Session, which will be held in Strasbourg from 29 to 31 October 2019.
The Russian Federation ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 1998. Countries that have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires respect for a minimum number of rights that constitute the first European basis of local self-government. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe ensures that these principles are respected.