At a press conference on 28 December, Mayor Andrei Shokhin commented on the forthcoming bill “On the principles of the organization of local self-government in a unified system of public authority”. The document, among other things, provides governors with the power to dismiss mayors and further limits the autonomy of municipalities.
The question from the editor-in-chief of ProVladimir was, “What do you think is more beneficial for the residents, what is more effective – the system of city executive committees or the system of local government, in which you have worked for a long time?” Andrei Shokhin answered it as follows:
Andrei Shokhin: Everything is learned by comparison. I will not say that the old City Executive Committee was bad. We also had a one-party system under the Communists, but the system was set up in such a way that everything was implemented and monitored. [Then] the Soviets came, there was a lot of discussion, but it didn’t make things better or worse. A lot depends here on how the executive branch works: effectively or ineffectively. Why speculate whether the head is elected or appointed? He either has a team or he does not. There is no unequivocal answer here. I think we have to look for the truth in the management.
Alexei Shlyapuzhnikov: Is it still impossible to say that Vladimir is governed by the United Russia’s City Executive Committee?
Andrei Shokhin: No, of course not.
Also, the head of the city refrained from assessing the draft law, explaining that he personally has no option whether or not to agree with the new rules of the game.
“Ready or not ready – it’s not asked here. Here, as they say, if you don’t want to work in this mode, go rest or find another job for yourself. The law is passed. The law has been signed by the president (if we are talking about the bill of the “unified system of public authority,” it has not yet been passed and has not yet been signed by the president – editor’s note). Maybe now there will be [changes]. All the regions and all the public organizations are discussing the law, so that we can correct it somewhere. Respected people will come to us, so you can ask the experts this question. Surely there will be some different opinions.
Andrey Shokhin also mentioned the bill in the context of a return to the direct election of mayors. Discussion of both the first and the second question will be devoted to the forthcoming seminar of the “Union of Cities of Center and North-West of Russia”, which will be held in February. Up to that moment, the mayor refused to discuss the question of returning to the popular vote for the mayor. Now, recall, the mayor is elected by the deputies of the City Council.
Earlier ProVladimir talked about the upcoming reform of local government with a sociologist, PhD Dmitry Petrosyan. The scientist believes that the idea of weakening local self-government will not bring the central government the desired improvement in the quality of governance:
“I can imagine that any governor, for example, the mayor of a city, his deputies or deputy governors, could take some unconventional steps, but they are afraid to do so because it is not clear what this will entail. Everything has to be approved, it is necessary to be more or less quiet and calm, to show loyalty. And it affects the quality of management, because there is a gap between managers and people which is not filled with anything but people’s complaints when they have such an opportunity. This is a serious problem,” Dmitry Petrosyan told our editorial board.