DATE=6/23/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA POLITICS (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-263685 BYLINE=EVE CONANT DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, has approved President Vladimir Putin's plan to strengthen the Kremlin's control over Russia's regions. V-O-A Moscow Correspondent Eve Conant reports regional leaders tried to block a proposal that would strip them of many of their powers. TEXT: Lawmakers in Russia's lower house of parliament approved the plan by President Putin to strip regional governors of their seats in the Federation Council, or upper house of parliament. Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of the plan, exceeding the two-thirds majority necessary to block the upper house from vetoing the bill. The legislation is just one part of President Putin's plan to rein in regional governors and strengthen Kremlin control throughout Russia. Mr. Putin, who was elected in March, has said tighter federal controls are necessary to improve Russia's economy and to keep Russia -- which spans 11 time zones -- a unified country. The bill strips Russia's powerful governors of their seats in the Federation Council and replaces them with appointed legislators. Governors would also lose diplomatic immunity from prosecution. Supporters of the plan say regional governors have wielded too much influence in the past and have passed laws which violate Russia's constitution. But Russian business tycoon and Duma lawmaker Boris Berezovsky argued that the plan would bring Russia one step closer to an authoritarian regime. /// BEREZOVSKY ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER /// Mr. Berezovsky says that if a governor is elected by the people, then -- in his words -- "it should only be the people that can strip him of his powers." The speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament where the governors presently sit, argued unsuccessfully earlier on Friday that passing the bill would grant President Vladimir Putin too much political power. (Signed) NEB/EC/JWH/ENE/KL 23-Jun-2000 10:47 AM EDT (23-Jun-2000 1447 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .