Kurkinskaya mandate anomaly - Newspaper Kommersant No. 181 (7382) of 09/30/2022

The Council of Deputies of Moscow's Kurkino district, the only one where supporters of the government did not win a majority in recent elections, failed to elect a new chairman on Thursday because five independent deputies did not attend the meeting. Oppositionist Ilya Svetikov, who headed the district in the previous two convocations, did not make it to the new council, but according to the law, he retains his powers until a new chairman is elected. However, the deputies still cannot decide on this issue, since the seats in the council between the pro-government and opposition elected representatives were divided strictly equally.

Only five of the ten elected deputies attended the first meeting of the new convocation of the Kurkino council on September 29: four representatives of the My District movement loyal to the Moscow City Hall and one self-nominated candidate, who, according to Ilya Svetikov, “sympathizes with them.” Five self-nominees who ran as part of Mr. Svetikov's team did not come to the meeting in protest against the "gross falsification" in the September 9-11 elections. Now they are trying to challenge in court the result of another member of the team - Dmitry Grishchenko, who, following the results of the initial vote count, was elected to the council, but after the ballots were recounted, he lost his mandate following a complaint from his opponent.

In the event of Mr. Grishchenko's victory, the Kurkina oppositionists would have retained the majority in the council, which previously consisted entirely of members of the team of Ilya Svetikov. He emphasizes that his associates did not seek help from opposition platforms to nominate candidates and won the elections solely because of the high recognition and support of the residents of the area.

The first meeting of the new council was opened by the director of the local library, Lyudmila Polubatonova (My District). She stated that, despite the presence of a quorum, the presence of only five out of ten deputies does not allow considering the issue of electing the head of the district, and therefore the meeting can be considered closed. She called the non-appearance of the oppositionists "a clarification of ambitions and grievances." After that, the presiding officer gave the floor to several listeners from the audience, who spoke even harsher, calling the actions of the opposition "sabotage."

One of them, introducing himself as a local resident, said that if independent deputies did not appear at the next meeting, he would initiate the collection of signatures for the election of the head of the district from among the deputies of the new convocation. At the same time, the activist referred to the decision of the Constitutional Court (CC), which in November 2021 pointed out the inadmissibility of creating conditions under which the head of the municipality of the previous convocation retains powers after the election of a new council. Such a practice “may call into question the periodic turnover of the composition of the authorities,” the Constitutional Court noted at the time, recommending that this gap be eliminated at the legislative level.

Recall that this decision was adopted by the Constitutional Court on the complaint of the municipal deputies of the Liteiny District of St. Petersburg, who could not elect a new head. More than half of the 20 deputies represented Yabloko, but two-thirds of the votes were required to elect the chairman, so the powers of the head of the district continued to be performed by the former chairman from United Russia. After the 2017 municipal elections, a similar situation developed in several districts of Moscow, where the opposition had half or even more of the votes, but could not elect its chairman, and throughout the entire convocation the district was headed by former United Russia leaders.

Amendments to the law on local self-government (LSG) on this issue have not yet been made, reminds ex-deputy of the Ramenki district, lawyer Nikolai Bobrinsky: not accepted yet." In the absence of such a norm, it is impossible to force the deputies of Kurkino to change the norm of the district charter on replacing the position of the head in a judicial proceeding, Mr. Bobrinsky believes.

The residents of Kurkino who spoke at the meeting, among other things, were “concerned” by Ilya Svetikov’s critical attitude to the special operation in Ukraine, which he expressed six months ago in a statement on behalf of the council of deputies. The audience was also embarrassed that two days before the meeting of the council, Mr. Svetikov received from the military registration and enlistment office a summons for conscription into the army as part of mobilization. The head of the district, however, said that the signature of the military commissar on the agenda was photocopied, and he himself has a reservation, which he presented to the military commissariat officer. And Ilya Svetikov regarded the delivery of the agenda as pressure on the council of deputies.

According to the law on mobilization, only State Duma deputies and members of the Federation Council are not subject to it, reminds human rights activist Anastasia Burakova. Employees of municipal authorities from mobilization can be protected by a reservation that is issued by the municipality (that is, by the head of the district himself). “Reservations can be obtained by people holding positions necessary to ensure the smooth operation of the municipal body. Since the reservation does not apply to a specific person, but to a position, in the event of deprivation of the post, the head of the district will also lose the delay, ”explains the expert. But the mere fact of serving the summons cannot be a reason for removing the head of the municipality from office, Ms. Burakova is sure.

Kira Heifetz

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