“The European Club” - most informal association in the Duma

Yesterday, the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) saw a presentation of an interfaction new association named somewhat pretentiously – the European Club. The newly-formed club includes 45 members. The club was initiated by “Yedinstvo” (Unity) faction, which is believed to be pro-Kremlin, in particular, by Vladimir Koptev-Dvornikov and Vladimir Semyonov. They assert the club is to proceed “in a European manner.” Interestingly, political heavyweights Irina Khakamada (the Union of Right Forces) and Georgi Boos (the Fatherland All Russia) have been elected to co-chair the club. The club’s founders contend their initiative is a kind of challenge thrown down by Westernizers to Slavophiles. As Ms. Khakamada puts it, “nobody wants to borrow everything from granny Europe and impose it all on Russia. “You can take some basic values, lay them in the foundation of our politics and economics and then hang on them all our national peculiarities,” she added. Among the club’s main tasks is a legislative support for the development of comprehensive relationships between Russia and other European countries in solving humanitarian and economic problems, security issues, and also fostering harmonization of Russian and European legislation. Deputies, included in this association, will also foster forging ties and exchange of experience with legislatures of European countries, EU, and interpaliamentary associations of European organizations, Mr. Koptev-Dvornikov, the club’s chairman, has told ITAR-TASS. The main forms of the club’s activity will include preparing and submitting to the Duma of bills concerning relationships between Russian and European countries, arranging regular meetings between Russian MPs and their European colleagues. “The European Club” is designed to unite politicians who view Russia as an integral part of the European civilization, according to RIA Novosti. A “public council” is to be set up at the club which will be “actively get representatives of public and scientific associations involved in discussing draft laws concerning Russia’s relationships with European countries.