The Guardian February 2, 2000


Russia:
New Duma convenes

The Duma (Lower House of Parliament) has recommenced its regular 
sessions following the December 19 elections.

Seleznev was re-elected as Speaker, despite the protests from the right-
wing blocks who were upset by the fact that the Communist Party of the 
Russian Federation (CPRF) and Unity (the Yeltsin-Putin party) had reached a 
compromise on the speaker.

The election of the speaker, however, should not be interpreted as meaning 
there is an "alliance" between the CPRF and Unity, said Alexander Kuvaev, 
CPRF Moscow Secretary.

Speaking after a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the 76th anniversary of 
Lenin's death, Mr Kuvaev said that the CPRF fraction in the Duma will not 
pass a law on land privatisation (referring to land for large-scale 
agricultural production, but not the sale of individual plots of land for a 
family weekender or garden).

Mr Kuvaev also pointed out that the Communist Party will not ratify the 
SALT-2 Agreement.

Its position on SALT-2 has a popular support as it is widely believed that 
Russia has very few options as a state for resisting NATO expansion to the 
east and that generally speaking Russia is facing the very serious danger 
of being undermined as a state.

The love affair with the West as promoted by Gorbachov is over but the 
devastation caused by the splitting up of the country, loss of resources, 
brain drain and the destruction of the public assets will take decades to 
overcome.

It is estimated that the losses the country had experienced far exceed 
those suffered as a result of World War II.

Be that as it may, life goes on and the Duma has already elected some of 
its committees' chairpersons.

The process is not complete but at the time of the writing the CPRF heads 
eight committees; Unity  seven; "People's Deputy" group  five; Liberal-
Democratic Party (Zhirinovsky)  one; Agrarian/Industrial group  one.

The Primakov/Luzhkov Fatherland-All Russia, Yavlinsky's Yabloko and 
Kirienko's Union of Right Forces MPs have so far refused positions on the 
committees which are open for them to fill.

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