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MOSCOW, July 16 (Itar-Tass) - The State Duma lower house of Russia’s parliament held a final meeting before the recess. Members of the CPRF (Communist) faction left the meeting without waiting for the final speech of the speaker, indignant by the complete subordination of the United Russia party to the Kremlin, because of which it is impossible to agree with it on anything. On Friday, the controversial law on non-profit organisations was passed in the second and third readings.
The law tightening control over the activities of non-profit organisations is to come into force 120 days after its adoption, Novye Izvestia writes. The amendments were supported by 374 deputies of four Duma factions, only A Just Russia faction voted against. The law on the return of the libel article to the RF Criminal Code has become even more painful for the society. On Sunday, the author of the idea – United Russia member Pavel Krasheninnikov said that the article will not entail imprisonment, but the maximum fine under it will be five million roubles. On Friday morning, journalists staged a series of single-person pickets against the initiative of Krasheninnikov and his colleagues near the State Duma building in Okhotny Ryad Street. More than 1,500 people signed the journalists’ petition against the legislation toughening. The adoption of the law in the parliament passed in a fierce debate. A Just Russia member Ilya Ponomarev said that he was surprised by the efficiency of the lower house, because not so long ago, the same people from the same party were discussing how to remove the libel article from the Criminal Code.
The walkout of the CPRF faction in the State Duma at the very end of the last meeting was the logical culmination of the first session of the sixth lower house, Nezavisimaya Gazeta believes. The cause of the scandal was as if a trifle. The opposition members asked to postpone until the autumn rejecting a bill, in which all parties are interested. The bill concerns the right of the parties’ leadership to pass vacant Duma mandates to any candidate from the list. The administration of the former president agreed with that. The document was signed by all prominent members of United Russia. Later, however, the Kremlin’s view changed. The United Russia faction, certainly, became hesitant along with the general line. However, the opposition felt that this issue should be nevertheless discussed at a meeting with Vladimir Putin, scheduled for July 18. However, the Communists say that the ruling party received the command to save the president from those troubles: to reject the law of July 13 so that to remove the subject for discussion on Wednesday. CPRF members failed to persuade United Russia to turn to the Kremlin for getting explanations. Even a call of CPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov to United Russia leader Dmitry Medvedev yielded no result. Medvedev only said that he heard the CPRF leader’s opinion. In protest against such humiliation the Communists on Friday left the meeting hall.
Kommersant sums up the results of the work of the new State Duma, which, according to the newspaper, is still a reliable tool of the Kremlin and the White House, despite the fact that for the first time since 2003 United Russia does not have a constitutional majority there. The earlier irreconcilable opposition has just become noisy. And the earlier indifferent ruling party has become aggressively intransigent.
The mood and tempo of work of the lawmakers have changed dramatically with the return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin, stresses Kommersant. Amendments to the law on rallies became the first law that made it clear that the authorities will no longer compromise. Before their introduction, masked provocateurs organised riots at an anti-Putin rally on May 6, for the first time since the start of the protest activity. With the law on rallies the rules of procedure of the lawmaking process fell by the wayside: the amendments were introduced on May 10, and already on June 5 they were passed by the State Duma. The “rulebook slowdown” organised by the Communists and members of A Just Russia due to which the discussion of the bill in the second reading lasted all day until midnight, failed to reach the goal. On June 8, President Vladimir Putin signed the law giving it legal effect before June 12, the day for which the next “March of Millions” was scheduled.
Another initiative, which was signed by the whole United Russia faction was amendments to the law “On Non-Profit Organisations.” According to it, from now on any domestic non-profit organisations involved in political activity should be referred to as “foreign agents.” But the apotheosis of the activity of United Russia was the return of the libel article to the RF Criminal Code. Although six months ago, the same members of United Russia, at the initiative of Dmitry Medvedev, voted in favour of decriminalisation, recognising that libel is not a crime, but an administrative offense.