The inner transformation of the State Duma

The session of the committee for regulations of the State Duma, was over with a very unpleasant result. The number of the committees of the Duma’s opposition will be cut by seven. Gennady Seleznyov will remain the speaker, but this can not be considered as a victory of the left factions.

The idea to dismiss Gennady Seleznyov was in its sense an abstractive manoeuvre in a well-planned campaign to deprive the parliamentary opposition of the real power levels in the State Duma. When the Duma of the last convocation was being formed, there was the so-called multiunit agreement elaborated, pursuant to which the positions in the committees of the Russian State Duma were distributed between the factions and the deputy groups. The administration of the key committees was shared by two largest factions – Communist Party and pro-presidential Unity. The post of the speaker was given to communists, but Unity was satisfied with appointing the first vice-speaker, and gained more influential committees.

There was an attempt to blame the speaker for the incredible corruption and even for setting up a special service of his own. This attempt was not strong, and as a result, Seleznyov was deprived of his right to vote at the Council of the Duma, as well as of the control over the administration of the Duma. This actually made the position of the speaker as a clearly representative one, it had become absolutely unattractive for the leaders of the factions of the parliamentary majority.

The committees are a different matter: they have the real influence on the branches and regions, via the budget process, first the foremost. There will be only two committees left for communists - the committee for culture and tourism, and also the committee for public associations and religious organizations – the degree of their influence on the budget does not need any comments. Such state figures as Sergey Glazyev (the committee for economic policy and business), Yury Maslyukov (the committee for industry, construction and science intensive technologies) will lose their positions of the chairmen of those committees. This seems to be Putin’s original response to the economic policy offers from Glazyev and Maslyukov that were made at the recent meeting with the president.

Thus, the Communist Party, the people’s and patriotic forces on the whole, will totally lose their influence in the parliament, so there is a question coming up, if the opposition is needed in this government body.

The scenario for the collective withdrawal of the deputies’ privileges by all members of the left factions and deputy groups has been developed, which calls the issue of the quorum of Duma’s sessions into question. In this situation the president will have to dissolve the State Duma and set the date for the parliamentary elections this coming autumn. Taking into consideration the fact that NATO’s operation in Iraq is planned to start in autumn too, so one may expect a very negative position of the Russian governments in the eyes of the public opinion, the patriotic and protesting sentiments amid the voters might grow. The improvement of the economic situation is not to be expected either. This all makes the danger of the pre-scheduled parliamentary elections rather serious. Another way is the derangement of the budgetary process, which can be achieved without the absolute majority. The result is dissolving the State Duma and carrying out the elections during the time, which will not be good for the Kremlin.

Anatoly Baranov Moscow State Duma

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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