Siloviki, Cover Girls and a Broken Glass

The State Duma, which contains at least five former magazine cover girls and 40 members of the siloviki, watched Nobel-winning scientist Zhores Alfyorov break a glass in a speech against poverty at its first session.

Most of the session Monday was spent by the deputies passing measures on the Duma's composition and plans for the next six months.

But Alfyorov set the tone by greeting the deputies before they stood for the national anthem.

"The fifth Duma is starting its work in a complicated period in world history," said Alfyorov, a Communist who won a Nobel Prize in physics.

Alfyorov said the gap between the rich and the poor in developed countries was six to one, while in Russia it was 30 to one. He held up a wine glass, saying the stem represented the poorest 10 percent of the world's population and the cup represented the world's richest 10 percent.

"And the stem is holding the cup," he said.

"To solve this problem, we have to break the wine glass," he said, putting the glass into a transparent plastic bag and breaking it on the tribune.

After the national anthem, elections chief Vladimir Churov offered a breakdown of the ages, sexes and education of the 450 deputies. He said in a speech that 67 are 60 or older, 11 are younger than 30, 63 are women and 10 lacked a higher education.

Four deputies are disabled, according to a Duma regulation considered Monday.

At least five deputies have posed as cover girls for men's magazines, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Tuesday. They are gymnasts Alina Kabayeva and Svetlana Khorkina, figure skater Svetlana Zhurova, boxer Natalya Karpovich and Bolshoi Theater dancer Svetlana Zakharova.

Four other sports stars are also in the Duma: figure skaters Irina Rodnina and Anton Sikharulidze, biathlete Svetlana Ishmuratova and Paralympics champion Mikhail Terentyev, the report said.

All the former athletes are members of United Russia, which won a landslide victory in the Dec. 2 elections.

The siloviki -- former military and security service officials who have risen to power under President Vladimir Putin -- are also well-represented in the Duma, with at least 40 deputies holding the rank of officer or general, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Tuesday.

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov also gave a speech Monday, congratulating the four parties that made it into the Duma and asking them to support the government's key initiatives.