Vladimir Putin Speech at State Duma plenary session 2020-03-10. Image - Wikimedia Commons

Five years of silence: More than 20 State Duma lawmakers haven't said a word in parliament since they were elected in 2016

The Russian State Duma's seventh convocation is coming to the end of its five-year term. And according to a new report from iStories and Znak.com, dozens of its deputies haven't said a word in a parliamentary session since they were elected in 2016. Others haven't put forward a single bill. Be that as it may, this hasn't stopped these lawmakers from collecting high salaries and planning to put their names on the ballot for the State Duma election coming up in September.

With just a couple months left before their mandates expire, there are no less than 22 Russian lawmakers who have yet to say a single word during a State Duma session over the past five years. According to a new report from iStories and Znak.com, most of these deputies are members of the party of power, United Russia. What's more, several of them played an unremarkable role in past convocations as well, meaning they've kept silent in the Duma for at least ten years. In addition, five lawmakers from the current convocation haven't submitted a single piece of legislation.

All the while, these State Duma deputies have been paid up to 470,000 rubles a month, the equivalent of $6,400 (this is a far cry from the average monthly salary in Russia, which was 51,100 rubles in 2020, that's less than $700) and enjoyed certain privileges — not to mention parliamentary immunity. In addition, some of these "silent" lawmakers are going to stand for re-election to the State Duma this September.

Of the 22 lawmakers who haven't said anything in parliament, 19 are from United Russia and three are from the Communist Party (KPRF). Among the ruling party faction, Rakhim Azimov, Alexander Bryskin, and Vladimir Resin have all been parliamentary deputies since 2011 — meaning they've kept quiet for past decade. Same goes for lawmakers Anatoly Bifov and Boris Ivanyuzheknov from the KPRF. United Russia deputies Irek Boguslavsky, Adam Delimkhanov, and Oleg Kolesnikov have set the bar even higher — they've occupied seats in the State Duma since 2007 and said nothing in those 14 years.

In conversation with Znak.com, United Russia lawmaker Oleg Kolesnikov claimed that his speeches were left out of the State Duma's transcripts. "I don't know how it happened. I've spoken from my seat many times. You have some incorrect data," he said. (Upon double checking the documents available on the State Duma's website, Znak.com still couldn't find evidence of Kolesnikov speaking during a parliamentary session). In turn, a spokesperson for the KPRF's Anatoly Bifov said that the lawmaker failing to speak up shouldn't be misinterpreted as disinterest in parliamentary work. "In Anatoly Zhamalovich's work the emphasis was placed on other things: we spent more time working in the district, with citizens and voters, as well as working on duma committees," his press service said, adding that the Communist faction decides who speaks in parliament. The other "silent" lawmakers didn't respond to inquiries from journalists.

According to iStories, United Russia deputy from Chechnya Adam Delimkhanov is the seventh convocation's most unproductive "silent" member. Indeed, he hasn't introduced a single piece of legislation since he co-authored a bill on "countermeasures against the unfriendly actions of the United States and other countries," which was adopted in 2018. Vladimir Resin, meanwhile, has put forward just three draft laws in the past five years. (iStories calculated that on average, Russian lawmakers submit 55 bills during their time in office).

That said there are several State Duma lawmakers who haven't authored (or even co-authored) a single draft law: Gavril Parakhin from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), as well as United Russia's Olga Pilipenko, Alexey Zolotarev, Andrey Kovalenko, and Alexey Lisovenko. (iStories notes that all of these deputies were late arrivals who joined the State Duma a few years after the 2016 election). In addition, there are five deputies who have submitted less than five bills in the past five years. Several of these lawmakers are running for re-election in September.

On the other end of the spectrum, iStories found that the State Duma's legislative leaders are Sergey Mironov and Mikhail Yemelyanov from A Just Russia, who have put forward 666 and 582 draft laws, respectively, as well as the LDPR's Igor Lebedev, who has introduced 552 initiatives.

 

Original report by iStories (Vazhnye Istorii) and Zhank.com. English text by Meduza. Republished with permission.

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