April Fool’s Day was celebrated on a large scale in Russia, and jokes and tricks were abundant. Duma deputies also took on the joyous spirit of the people. Yesterday, the Duma’s regulation committee considered the redistribution of top positions in the committees. The committee decreed that the Communist faction should be deprived of the top positions in the seven Duma’s committees (the total number of committees is nine). The faction will retain only the top positions in the two committees: for culture and sport and for affairs of public associations and religious organizations. The top positions of the rest seven committees are suggested to be distributed among the following factions: Fatherland All Russia, Union of Right-wing Forces, Yabloko, and Russia’s regions.
Dismissal of Speaker Gennady Seleznev is not on the agenda any more: the total defeat of the leftist forces in the Duma will keep down the appetite of the centrist and rightist forces. The Kremlin wants to preserve a balance in the lower chamber, which is why claims of the rightist and centrist forces will not make any way. Deputy head of the presidential administration Vladislav Surkov was at the Duma regulation committee’s session. This very fact demonstrates that the Kremlin approves of the rightists and centrists’ activity. On the eve of governmental bills’ adoption, the Kremlin understood that any changes in the lower chamber (replacement of the committees’ heads will necessarily entail reshuffling of the staff) are much better than the probable slowdown of bills by the Communist-controlled committees. The Kremlin’s guiding role is clearly cut in the situation. What is to come next? Further development of the events is to be even more interesting.
The Duma plans to address Russia’s Ministry for Justice and Public Prosecutor for the liquidation of the Communist Party and institution of criminal proceedings against party leader Gennady Zyuganov. The initiator of the plan, deputy Alexander Fedulov (Fatherland – All Russia), told journalists on Tuesday that the project would be considered at a Duma session on April 4. It was said in the deputy's address that “the Communist Party is striving for domination in every sphere of the state political power; it causes social and national discord by propaganda and psychosis.” In addition, as the deputy thinks, “Communist-controlled media often publish statements, articles, and letters designed to inflame social and national discord.” At the same time, according to Alexander Fedulov, “the Communist program contradicts the Constitution and the federal law on political parties, which may be a reason for the party's liquidation and institution of criminal proceedings against the leader.
Is the situation just a personal initiative of the deputy or an instruction from above? The first is very unlikely, and the second does not seem to be well-timed. The leftists have had enough, and the authorities do not wish to deliver a finishing blow. The Communist Party is still popular among the population, and, although no mass protests are organized, Gennady Zyuganov can easily make the electorate go into the streets. The Kremlin would not welcome it. Vladimir Putin’s crede is to preserve stability in Russia, especially at a time when more painful changes are soon coming: 100% payment of public utility bills, time telephone rates, etc.
What are the communists going to do? Will they surrender so easily? They will hardly be able to block the decision, and the only thing left for them is to play tricks: they may, for example, bring their leaders from the women’s committee and credentials committee to the agrarian party and frustrate voting in cases when the Duma needs a two thirds majority. A slight hope is left for them as well: Zyuganov and Seleznev are expected to address the president (who is coming back to Moscow soon) and ask for the cancellation of the decisions. Probably, for this very reason, the initiators of the reconsideration of the decision said that they would draw up the necessary documents by Wednesday.
Dmitry Chirkin PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/02/39135.html