Russian President Proposes Political Reforms Amid Fraud Allegations

Posted December 22nd, 2011 at 10:10 am (UTC-5)
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed political reforms, following recent protests against alleged election fraud.

In his State of the Union address Thursday, Mr. Medvedev proposed easing registration requirements for political parties and presidential candidates.

He also said he supports a proposal under consideration by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that allows direct election of governors pending Kremlin approval of candidates.

Charges of fraud in Russia's December 4 parliamentary elections sparked opposition-led mass protests. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Moscow and elsewhere demanding a rerun of the poll, in the largest demonstrations in post-Soviet Russia.

The next major protest is planned for Saturday.

Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Putin have opposed repeating the December 4 poll, in which Mr. Putin's ruling United Russia party won 238 of the 450 seats in parliament.

Meanwhile, President Medvedev has appointed Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov as Kremlin chief of staff, one of the most powerful jobs in Russian politics.

Ivanov, a close ally of Mr. Putin, succeeds Sergei Naryshkin, who was elected on Wednesday as speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma.