Russia » Politics

Does Russia really need this Parliament?

Nikolai Kharitonov of Communist Party said on 19 May that he sees no sense in the State Duma where United Russia representatives have taken almost all seats.
He suggested dissolving the Duma, as the situation in it leaves no room for discussions or debates. And dissolution would translate into less pressure on the state budget, added he.

That was the deputy’s feedback on the proposal of Mintimer Shaimiyev, President of Tatarstan and co-chairman of United Russia, to “discuss all the decisions that are crucial for the country in advance at the Party’s Supreme Council”.

Nikolai Kharitonov’s indignation was caused by the lack of response to Mintimer Shaimiyev’s statement. Besides, the deputy made a move to assess the 100 days of the fourth Duma's performance.

Mintimer Shaimiyev told a news conference last week that the Duma deputies who stem from United Russia are passing bills too rapidly taking advantage of being a majority. According to him, as a co-chairman of United Russia Party he is concerned about this, and not he alone. He did not specify the bills he was talking about.

Oleg Kovalev, chairman of Duma's Committee on Rules says that there exists no procedure for voluntary dissolution of parliament. However, the deputies are free to go out of office and nobody will make them come back. But this solution is hardly realistic. He thinks that a politician making statements similar to that of Kharitonov’s should first think how they will affect the international community’s perception of Russia, or the market position of Russian companies, or public faith in stability.

 Viktor Pokhmelkin, an independent deputy, notes that though the present Duma does not satisfy him as a voter, he is against constitutional processes being thwarted to please any single MP.

 “Under our Constitution, the Duma is a decorative body that can effectively enjoy only lobbyist powers. The current Duma does not differ significantly from the previous Duma with a strong communist influence,” says Boris Kagarlitsky, Director of Institute for Globalisation Problems. “There is no special need for Russia to have a State Duma and hold elections. A country ruled by a sovereign would have simplified the matters. The decorative Duma in the pre-revolutionary Russia was a concession of the establishment to pressure from society. The current decorative Duma is a concession of the authorities to the pressure of appearances.”

Mark Urnov, chairman of Ekspertiza Foundation, believes that the current Duma’s performance is driven by its structure. The existing procedure requires that a question from a deputy must be authorised by a relevant committee and in a house dominated by one party deputies are not capable of making independent moves. Such a Duma appears to act as a state agency on politics. However, the process of the Duma’s transforming into an executive body is not over and for many people the picture remains unclear.  

Politics Department
Translated by ZM

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