Regional democracy in the Russian Federation

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due to the requirement to collect a large number of supporting signatures, a provision the Congress calls for to be repealed.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 Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by member States of the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Monitoring Committee) is responsible for monitoring the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and its additional Protocol on the right to participate in the affairs of local authorities by Council of Europe Member States that have ratified these legal instruments. It organises monitoring visits and drafts reports and recommendations on the state of local and regional democracy in the Member States concerned and also examines specific issues related to local and regional democracy. Through post-monitoring political dialogue, it ensures that its recommendations to Member States are followed up.

The Monitoring Committee undertakes in particular:

  • a general regular country-by-country monitoring mission to each Member State approximately every five years;
  • the examination of a particular aspect of the Charter, by decision of the Bureau or the Commission;
  • fact-finding missions to examine, by decision of the Bureau, specific cases of concern.

In its work, the Committee takes into account:

  • the conclusions and recommendations of the Congress concerning election observation missions;
  • the human rights situation at local and regional level in Europe and, in accordance with Resolution 296 (2010), prepares a regular report on this specific issue.

The Committee contributes to the post-monitoring dialogue and develops, as appropriate, targeted assistance programmes on issues of common interest identified during the monitoring visits, in order to provide concrete assistance to local and regional authorities and to ensure the effective follow-up of its recommendations.