MOSCOW, April 27 (RIA Novosti)
How Far is Saakashvili Willing to Go to Reclaim Abkhazia and South Ossetia?
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said he would give up his post “and even parts of his body” if Russia withdraws troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia and annuls its recognition of the independence of the breakaway republics.
“My answer is simple: if they are ready to return control over the occupied Georgian territories and pull out their troops, I will fly anywhere, right now, to meet with Mr Medvedev or whoever is actually running the country, and sign an agreement offering my resignation in exchange for the breakaway territories,” Saakashvili said, commenting on President Dmitry Medvedev’s statement that Moscow was ready to restore relations with Georgia only if its president resigned.
His next statement suggested he was willing to resort to extreme measures. “In addition, I would cut off and send them those parts of my body in which they have shown repeated interest. I am not being ironic,” the Georgian leader said, without specifying which body parts Moscow apparently had in mind.
He said that Medvedev had admitted in his Thursday’s interview that the Russian government is so keen to overthrow the Georgian government because “a successful Georgia is their worst nightmare.” “A country they declared ruined in 2008 has risen from the ashes. Its achievements are now examples to follow, not only for the Russian opposition but also for the neighboring countries and the current Russian government,” he added.
He also believes that Russia wants to replace his government with a political force that will directly or indirectly promise to legitimize the occupation of the Georgian territories and accept what they call the ‘new reality’.
Medvedev said in an interview with Russian media that Moscow was ready to start building relations with Georgia after Saakashvili relinquishes power. Saakashvili “is an empty place, a zero”, who “will depart from political history sooner or later,” he said, adding that Russia was ready “to restore diplomatic ties and build relations with any other new leader to appear and meet them halfway.”
Upper House Members Want Putin to Submit Law on Election of Federation Council
The Federation Council plans to discuss a bill on a new procedure for forming the upper house of parliament today. A co-author of the bill said it would be logical if President Vladimir Putin submitted the bill to the State Duma after his inauguration on May 7.
Putin proposed electing Federation Council members during his Question and Answer session on December 15, 2011. On the same day Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said the house had formed a group to work on the proposal. “If the president refuses to submit the bill, we will submit it on behalf of the house or Matviyenko may submit it jointly with [State Duma Speaker] Sergei Naryshkin,” said Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security and co-author of the bill.
Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told Kommersant that he knows nothing about any talks with Putin regarding the submission of the bill to the State Duma.
Currently, each region has two representatives in the Federation Council, one nominated by the governor and the other by the local legislature. Candidates must be members of the municipal, regional or federal legislature. Under the new bill, legislators are to select one of them to represent their region in the upper house, while three self-nominated candidates should take part in gubernatorial elections, after which the person elected governor will appoint the candidate who received the highest number of votes to the Federation Council.
“We have forwarded the bill to the President’s Executive Office and the government,” Ozerov said. The bill cannot be submitted to the State Duma until the president signs the law on gubernatorial elections, which the lower house adopted on April 25.
Under the bill, candidates need to have lived in the region which they will represent in the upper house for at least five years (this requirement does not apply to current Federation Council members, State Duma deputies and acting officials appointed by the president). Ozerov has proposed adding to the list those who have been appointed by the president’s recommendation, for example the chairman of the Audit Chamber, the Prosecutor General and judges of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts.
According to the poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) on April 15, 81 percent of respondents don’t know either of the two members representing their region, 10 percent know one of them and only 3 percent know both members. Furthermore, 82 percent of respondents said it is wrong that some regions are represented by people who have never lived there, and 85 percent approve of the five-year residency requirement. A total of 74 percent support the idea of increasing the age stipulation from 30 to 35 years, while 36 percent believe that an elected upper house would be more efficient. As many as 57 percent say that upper house members should suspend their party membership for the duration of their terms.
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