Valentina Matviyenko: Senators’ legislative activity is up significantly

The Federation Council Speaker held a news conference for journalists following the 2019 Federation Council spring session.

The 2019 Federation Council spring session was quite eventful, and the senators’ legislative activity has significantly increased, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko told journalists at the news conference.

“We have achieved and even exceeded our targets. We changed our plans and added more issues for our consideration. These issues were brought to our attention by the regions. So, we feel good about the work done during this time.”

According to the Speaker, including the upcoming 464th session of the upper house, the Federation Council approved over 300 laws, and 90 draft laws were submitted to the State Duma by individual senators, groups of legislators and the Federation Council committees.

 “In addition to legislative activity, a large amount of work has been carried out to address pressing issues and draft recommendations, including round table discussions, parliamentary hearings, field meetings of the committees in the regions, and other types of work,” Valentina Matviyenko said.

She also emphasised the focus on inter-parliamentary contacts. “I consider it a great achievement that our persistent and just demands to revise the PACE Rules and to remove restrictions on national delegations in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly were successful. The Federal Assembly delegation is now back in the CoE Parliamentary Assembly. We will continue to work there and to uphold the necessary changes in this parliamentary entity’s activities.”

The Federation Council Speaker also mentioned the successful 5th International Humanitarian Livadia Forum, the 6th Forum of the Regions of Russia and Belarus, as well as a number of other public functions.

“Of course, legislative support for the instructions issued with regard to implementing the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly was our priority,” the Speaker said. “The country has entered a crucial stage of implementing 12 national projects, the goal of which is to significantly improve the quality of life of our citizens. These national projects, including the presidential instructions, demanded timely legislative support for this activity, which we actively engaged in.”

According to Valentina Matviyenko, a series of social laws adopted as a follow-up to the May executive order was among the most important ones. “These are the laws about orphans, large families and people in difficult situations.”

The Speaker mentioned the recently adopted law governing housing construction. “From now on, escrow accounts will be strictly overseen by the banks,” she said. “The law does not leave any loopholes that can be used to cheat equity holders.”

In addition, Valentina Matviyenko mentioned the law on hostels and separately noted the law on microfinance organisations which will be considered at the 464th Federation Council session. She also mentioned another important document about geographical names. “This law is very important for the regions, for protecting our domestic producers, intellectual property rights, and improving the intellectual property market,” Valentina Matviyenko said.

Speaking about developing a new Forest Code, the Speaker noted that forests have recently come to the forefront of public discussion.

She explained that the Federation Council has prepared an action plan that includes a requirement for universal monitoring of previously signed leases and their implementation in terms of compliance with the legislation on forest cutting, reforestation, and forest maintenance. “The first thing to do is to improve legislation and, in particular, to draft a new Forest Code,” Valentina Matviyenko said.

She noted that a working group had been created under the Federation Council in conjunction with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the first results of its work on the new Forest Code are already available. “Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Yury Vorobyov, a reputable and, most importantly, experienced person was entrusted with leading this work in the Federation Council. He was deputy head of the Emergency Ministry for a long time and is familiar with this subject.“

Valentina Matviyenko said that as soon as the draft Forest Code is ready, it will be put up for public discussion in the regions and at the federal level.

Domestic violence was another issue raised by reporters during the news conference. On 23 July, Valentina Matviyenko issued an instruction with the office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, to monitor domestic violence in Russia. A working group will be created which will be led by Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Galina Karelova. Representatives of public organisations will take part in the work.

Valentina Matviyenko said that the issue is mostly about monitoring law enforcement. The Speaker noted the lack of accurate statistics in this area, often because law enforcement agencies do not take calls reporting domestic violence seriously.

According to the Speaker, Russian law is quite tough on domestic violence: various types of punishment are provided for in more than 20 different laws. At the same time, according to Valentina Matviyenko, it still needs to be revisited to determine whether any statutes need to be specified, amended or toughened.

It is necessary to take into account the possibility of abuse or interference in family affairs under the guise of combating domestic violence, the Speaker said. “We need to find this balance so that both men and women feel protected against domestic violence and at the same time remain confident that their constitutional right to protect their private life is respected,” Valentina Matviyenko said.

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