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February 18, 2016 No.
6315

Russian Oppositionist Gennady Gudkov Criticizes The Kremlin's 'Castration' Of The Duma

On February 3, 2016, Russian businessman and prominent oppositionist Gennady Gudkov wrote on his blog, which appears on the website of the independent Russian radio station Echo of Moscow, that the Kremlin has rendered the Duma (Russia's lower house of parliament) ineffectual. Gudkov, known for his vocal criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was himself a member of the Duma between 2001 and 2012 and was a member of its security committee. In 2012, he was expelled from the Duma on charges of corruption,[1] but subsequently an investigative committee found no grounds for bringing legal charges against him.[2]

In the blog entry, titled "The Castration of the Duma," Gudkov states that the Kremlin has turned the lower house of parliament into a body of meek, obedient yes-men who do not care for the Russian people's interests but only for their seats. The present Duma, he says, is the worst of his experience, and produces nothing but political scandals and repressive laws that trample the Russian constitution and the opposition. He concludes that "Russia and its people need a fully functional, professional and feisty parliament. But with this government, we will never get a Duma like that."

The following are excerpts from his blog entry.

 
Source: Izvestia.ru, June 3, 2013

The Kremlin's Transformed Duma's Representatives Into 'Tin Soldiers'

"Going through some of my recorded Duma speeches, I caught myself thinking that over the past three years the Kremlin has 'cleaned up' the Parliament in its entirety, ensuring its complete sterility and incapacity. One might say that the Duma has been castrated so it can have no future whatsoever as the representative agency of the people's power.

"Alas, what we see today in place of the Duma is a herd of sheep-like people, who are not dull by nature but who have completely lost their self-respect and have been turned by the regime into 'tin soldiers,' ready to carry out any instruction 'from above,' obediently and uncomplainingly.

"The interests of Russia and of the people, and responsibility for the fate of the country - all these are empty words for the dwellers of the Duma with their dull, lost eyes, who are completely subservient to someone else's will, having exchanged their convictions and principles for warm Duma seats. Discussion of trivial matters only [and] a painstaking avoidance of the most burning and important issues; oppositionist [stances that are a mere] pretense; competition in loyalty [to the Kremlin] and striving to be the first to guess what the Kremlin wants - these are the distinctive features of the current 'castrated' Duma, which has been completely drained of any living political debates and of any capability to influence the situation in the country.

The Current Duma Is Being Dissolved Before The End Of Its Term

"Of course, there are some seedlings of life left even in this swamp - some members who have not been broken by the authorities. But their voice in the Parliament is hardly heard. The draconian new regulations for Duma debates grant the floor only to factions, not to individual members, who are thus deprived of their right to speak. As for the oppositionist nature of these factions, we know it quite well: there is one party masquerading as four,[3] which differ from each other only slightly in their style of support for the current government. In short, it's all very bleak and gloomy

"I was a member of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth Dumas. Only the third was more or less decent: it still retained a degree of unpredictability and there were heated arguments, brilliant speakers, excellent professionals and compromise solutions. However, even the third Duma was already being trampled by the president's administration and was being ruined right before our eyes, losing its autonomy and its independence from the executive branch of power.

"But the sixth [and present] Duma - the worst of all - will leave no mark on Russian history except for a few loud political scandals, the cynical persecution of dissidents, and the senseless repressive laws that are destroying Russia and its Constitution. This seems to be the last useless and spineless Duma before [the onset of] severe upheavals that await our country. [This will be] the last [Duma] to 'live' to the end of its disgraceful, vapid, boring and grey term.

"However, no, I am wrong about one thing. The current Duma will actually be dissolved before the end of its term, for the first time in modern Russian history. Things must have turned quite ugly for the Kremlin, [and] it is afraid of the elections in December [2016].What if by that time the growing crisis will awaken the consciousness of the masses? This [possibility] is quite scary for those who are used to [electoral] fraud by the Central Electoral Commission and the theft of Duma mandates.

"Of course, Russia and its people need a fully functional, professional and feisty Parliament. But with this government, we will never get a Duma like that."

 

Endnotes:

 

[1] This was the first time in modern Russian history that a member of the Duma had been expelled without having been convicted of a crime. ðóhemoscowtimes.com, September 17, 2012.

[2] Lenta.ru, November 1, 2012.

[3] The current State Duma consists of four factions: the ruling party United Russia, the Communist party of the Russian Federation, A Just Russia and the Liberal Democratic party of Russia.