The current session of Russia’s Duma concludes this week leaving a legacy of obedience to the all powerful Pesident Vladmir Putin. The Duma has not rejected any of his proposals and essentially serves as a lap dog for the Putin administration. The Duma has done an excellent job of pushing through legislation that makes it difficult for smaller parties to elect anyone to parliament because Putin really doesn’t enjoy having anyone oppose the correctness of his policies. Vladmir Ryzhkov, among the few independent deputies, characterized the Duma because, “All it does is limp humbly behind the presidential administration and Cabinet. It’s a parliament that totally lacks willpower and initiative.” Ryzhkov finally got a commission established to investigate police actions in crushing an opposition political demonstration. The commission met a few times and then quietly never showed up again.
Historians will gaze back on the Putin administration for its failure to establish a vibrant Russian democracy. Putin did some effective actions to bring stability to the nation, but his greatest failure is being unable to accept the presence of divergent voices in parliament. It may well take another decade before Russian democracy is back to where it was in the 1990s.