Russia – Why does the president still have to veto legislation?

On 12 December President Putin vetoed the Law On Amendments to the Federal Law On Skolkovo Innovation Centre. The President’s website says that the law was passed by the Duma on 23 November and approved by the Federation Council on 28 November only to be vetoed a couple of weeks later.

The website outlines some of the technical reasons why President Putin vetoed the bill, but the question arises as to why he had to do so in the first place. After all, United Russia has a huge and disciplined majority in the Duma.

According to figures I have kindly been sent by a Russian academic, this was the only time that Putin vetoed a bill in 2012. The figures indicate one veto in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2010, two vetoes in 2006, three vetoes in 2005, but none in either 2007 or 2011.

Now, there were a lot more vetoes in the 1996-1999 session than in 2000-2003 session and more in the 2000-2003 session than since. That makes sense. But, why is the president still having to veto laws now?

There is some background to the 2012 veto here. One way of interpreting the comments is to say that President Putin was signalling his disagreement with PM Medvedev, or, rather, the actions of Medvedev when he was president previously. This may be so, but it still does not explain why the legislature voted for the bill in November if the president’s authority over United Russia is so great.

So, for me anyway, the question as to why the Russian president still occasionally feels the need to veto legislation is still open.

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