Russia’s newly-elected lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has held its inaugural session with four parties making up the 450 seat assembly. With 315 seats, President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party will dominate the assembly after its landslide victory in parliamentary polls earlier this month. Its nearest rivals are the Communists with 57 seats. Critics say all four parties that will be sitting in the legislature share an open dislike of the West and everything it stands for.
However, in an unusual demonstration, the Duma’s oldest member, Zhores Alferov, told deputies that everyone had to work harder to ensure Russia’s wealth is evenly distributed among the poor. He said they were essential, like the glass which holds champagne, but not so easily replaceable.
He then preceded to break a champagne glass on the platform. Sentiments shared by Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who accused the Russian parliament of not acting in the best interests of its citizens:
“The Duma doesn’t meet peoples’ aspirations. In fact, two thirds of voters don’t back current policies and acted by voting against or not voting at all in the parliamentary election,” he said. “I think the old policies will continue, which won’t improve the well-being of ordinary people,” he added.
The prime minister responded by saying the election result showed that Russians are firmly behind the Duma’s policies.