DATE=7/26/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA / POLITICS (L) NUMBER=2-264810 BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, has approved a bill that gives President Vladimir Putin greater control over the country's far-flung regions. V-O-A Moscow correspondent Peter Heinlein reports regional leaders voted for the measure even though it strips them of many privileges, including their seats in parliament. TEXT: The once-powerful regional chiefs seemed resigned to their fate as they trooped in to the Federation Council chamber to effectively vote themselves out of their legislative jobs. By a margin of 119 to 18, they approved a bill that restructures the upper house, replacing themselves with appointed legislators. The controversial measure drew fierce opposition when it was first announced. Lawmakers called it an attack on Russia's federal structure. During Wednesday's pre-vote debate, Nikolai Fyodorov, head of the Chuvash republic, accused President Vladimir Putin of pushing the measure to make him all- powerful. /// FYODOROV ACT IN RUSSIAN-ESTABLISH & FADE /// He says, "It now turns out that we have a society in which the will of the emperor, or the will of the president, is above the constitution, just as the opinion of Kremlin bureaucrats is more important than constitutional regulations." But despite these arguments, everyone in the chamber understood that if they voted against the measure, their veto could have been easily overturned by the Duma, or lower house. In the end, the governors accepted a compromise by which they can keep their seats until their current terms expire. But when that time is up, they lose all privileges of office, including the immunity from prosecution that goes along with a seat in parliament. Alexander Dzashkov, head of the North Ossetia region, notes that the bill also allows governors to nominate their regional representatives. He calls this a constructive compromise. /// DZASHKOV ACT IN RUSSIAN-ESTABLISH & FADE /// He says, "We will have better success if we start constructive dialogue with President Putin about creating other organs that will help us achieve our goals." In arguing for the overhaul of the upper house, Mr. Putin contended the changes were needed to battle Russia's economic problems, and to stop what he called disregard for federal laws in some provinces. He earlier won the right to fire or temporarily dismiss any governor accused of breaking the law. Under Mr. Putin's predecessor, President Boris Yeltsin, governors were encouraged to make take as much autonomy as they could. But critics complained that regional bosses often approved laws that contradicted those passed at the federal level. (Signed) NEB/PFH/GE/WTW 26-Jul-2000 07:54 AM EDT (26-Jul-2000 1154 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .