Internet initiative: Public petitions get legislative legs

25b5000 hkg3121797 Internet initiative: Public petitions get legislative legs

The new rules read that the citizens’ suggestions will undergopreliminary expert evaluation in order to check their compliancewith the Russian constitution, as well as with the internationallaw. Experts will also assess the urgency of the problem and thevalidity of the suggested ways to solve it.The services will be provided by a specially established NGO‘Information Democracy Foundation’, currently headed by DeputyCommunications Minister Ilya Massukh. The maximum time for theassessment is set at two months.After that, the suggestions will be posted on the Russian PublicInitiative website for a popular vote. The petitions that gain thesupport of 100,000 citizens or more will be forwarded to theparliament.Initiatives that deal with regional and municipal issues willhave to get support from at least 5 per cent of localresidents.However, as the parliament receives the initiatives they willrequire an additional rewriting to become an official legislativebill.Petitions that contain insults, threats and calls for extremistaction will be removed from the site by moderators withoutevaluation. Initiatives that fail to gain enough support within oneyear from the moment of publishing will be removed from thesite.The Russian Public Initiative website will be officiallylaunched on April 15, 2013.Any Russian citizen 18 years or older can submit petitions tothe site, but it will require authorization through the UnifiedIdentification and Authentication System – a relatively new projectlaunched to transfer the  civil services and statebureaucracy into the internet.The suggestion to make public petitions with strong popularsupport into draft laws was voiced by Vladimir Putin in June 2012at an economic forum in St. Petersburg. However, it is only nowthat the president approved the rules of such action.But even after the mere announcement a part of Russian publichas already tried to use it to influence the legislativeprocess.As the State Duma considered the DimaYakovlev bill that banned US adoptions of Russian orphans, itreceived a petition seeking to revoke the controversial amendment.The State Duma looked into the petition, but eventuallyturned it down as there was no way to verify either theauthenticity of signatures or the citizenship of over 100,000people who submitted them via the internet.

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Internet initiative: Public petitions get legislative legs

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