Putin Library on Duma's Agenda

The new State Duma will consider legislation to construct a library and museum to honor President Vladimir Putin but won't take up a promised bill to fight corruption during its spring session, which opens Friday.

The Duma Council laid out the spring agenda at a meeting Thursday, and Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said deputies faced a hectic workload of more than 600 bills.

Gryzlov, who heads United Russia, the pro-Kremlin party that will dominate the new Duma, reiterated that priority would be given to bills implementing President Vladimir Putin's initiative to raise the salaries of state workers and the military starting from Feb. 1.

"We are ready to pass the legislation, but it hasn't been filed yet," he said.

Gryzlov said deputies were waiting for the government to send over the legislation and would approve it as soon as they received it.

The government and the president have filed 29 bills, he said.

Communist Deputy Ivan Melnikov criticized the Duma agenda, saying it had left off important bills that voters were expecting to be passed, Interfax reported.

Melnikov said the Duma would not consider bills proposed earlier to fight corruption and to guarantee the rights of the opposition.

On Wednesday, A Just Russia, another pro-Kremlin party, submitted a bill to create memorial centers devoted to former Russian presidents. According to the bill, which the party said was inspired by the U.S. tradition, the centers will include a museum, library and archive to illustrate the work of each president. The museum collection, which would include objects that belonged to the former president, and the archives would be part of a federal agency, the Federal Museum Foundation. All the facilities would be open to the public. The centers would be located in the city where the president was born, but the bill says they should have branches in Moscow as well.

Under the bill, every newly elected president should start thinking about how to create his center after his first year in power and he would head the center after he leaves office.

A Just Russia said each center would cost the federal budget more than 1 billion rubles ($40 million).

So far, Russia has only one former president who would qualify for a center, Boris Yeltsin, who died last year. Putin is to leave office in May.

The Duma will consider 18 bills in a first reading and one in a third reading during its first session Friday, Gryzlov said. Among them is a new bill that would give local governments the right to set quotas on the number of foreigners working in market stalls.