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Group of independent lawmakers in Russian parliament numbers 7

October 16, 2012, 18:44 UTC+3

Two more members of A Just Russia faction - Vadim Kharlov and Vladimir Mashkarin - have joined the group of independent lawmakers

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MOSCOW, October 16 (Itar-Tass) — Two more members of A Just Russia faction - Vadim Kharlov and Vladimir Mashkarin - have joined the group of independent lawmakers at the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament, group leader Leonid Levin told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

"This trend confirms the reputation of A Just Russia faction as unconstructive Opposition. Today, /Sergei/ Mironov's faction is actually associated not with professional legislative activity, but with street activity, which does not always end up in productive vein," Levin said.

The group plans to forward a letter to State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin requesting him to let it sit together as a group at the plenary sessions hall, and issue the instruction to introduce amendments to the house procedures to grant the members of this independent parliament association a majority of rights and opportunities enjoyed by the factions.

For his part, Vadim Kharlov, in comments on this decision to Itar-Tass, stated that after joining the independent lawmakers, he was hoping for the opportunity to finally start working in the interests of his voters.

"At present, the dialogue with the government or the State Duma is practically impossible within the rank of this faction /A Just Russia/; I was elected to parliament by my voters and must defend their interests," he said.

At present, the group of independent lawmakers numbers seven persons. Formally, they are members of A Just Russia faction.

As of today, the State Duma procedure envisions just one official form or consolidating lawmakers - through factions; quitting a faction means losing a mandate. Meanwhile, house speaker Sergei Naryshkin did not rule out that the State Duma might consider amendments to the procedure on non-faction groups. He noted that as of now, "lawmakers can communicate with each other and have informal associations; there are no bans on a lawmaker's expressing opinions to the contrary which disagrees with the faction's views."

Deputy Secretary of United Russia Party's General Council Alexei Chesnakov earlier said the members of the "Group of Independent Lawmakers" should have the right to defend their point of view, even if the house will have to change its procedure for their sake.

"If they /the lawmakers/ have already formed a group which outlined its political position that differs from the rest of the faction, it would be undemocratic and unjust not to give them the opportunity to present their point of view, to make speeches and work in committees and commissions, and also have a full-fledged communication channel with voters," Chesnakov said.

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