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Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has said Russia should reinstate direct elections
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has said Russia should reinstate direct elections for governors in the regions as a more democratic method of selecting regional leaders.

Speaking live on Russian television late on Monday, Luzhkov said in 2004 he had backed then-president Vladimir Putin's decision to abolish governor elections in favor of presidential nominations, but today he said it would be wise to reinstate them.

"Today the issue should be reviewed. I would support this," Luzhkov said, adding that direct elections where several candidates ran for governor were more legitimate.

Putin's decision fueled Western criticism that Russia was backsliding from democracy. Putin said the move was needed to ensure stability in the country.

In Russia, Mintimer Shaimiyev, president of the vast oil-rich Republic of Tatarstan in the Volga River basin, has advocated the return of direct polls in the regions.

Murtaza Rakhimov, his counterpart in the neighboring south Urals republic of Bashkortostan, another major oil producer in Russia, has also argued that Russia has effectively ceased to exist as a "federative state" since regional elections were abolished and the Kremlin started appointing governors.

The Communist Party leader backed Luzhkov on Tuesday. "We have always advocated the direct elections of governors," Gennady Zyuganov said describing them as "truly democratic."

The ruling United Russia party, which dominates parliament, has repeatedly rejected appeals to review the decision.

A senior party member, Vyacheslav Volodin, said earlier the new arrangements have helped curb corruption preventing regional financial lobbies from promoting their candidates to the legislature.


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