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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Back in the U. S. S. R. and Gaidar, the 'Boxer'

Occasionally, deputies at the Congress can be too surreally stubborn even for Ruslan Khasbulatov - a man who has himself won a few prizes for his ability to exasperate.

Working their way through the 300 or so constitutional amendments on their agenda Tuesday, the deputies came to one article that needed only a name change.

It requires political parties to adhere to the Constitution of the U. S. S. R. -

no great surprise given that the current constitution was written in 1978.

But when the deputies were asked to change "U. S. S. R". to read "Russian Federation", they voted the proposal down.

"What are you clapping for", Khasbulatov cried in disbelief from his podium as hardliners applauded their small victory. "Surely you understand that because of this kind of attitude people will think of us as dinosaurs".

The deputies were unmoved. Russia's political parties must now act within the framework of the Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - a country that does not exist.

If people are not worried enough by the views of the more reactionary deputies at the Congress, their faction notice boards are sometimes chilling.

One offers materials about "The Russian Question in Moldova". Prominently displayed is the bloodied face of a child being helped to safety by a soldier - clearly the victim of fighting between Russian-speakers and ethnic Romanians in that republic. Another shows extremist Ukrainian propaganda warning that the Crimean peninsula "will be Ukrainian or without people". It was set up to argue that Sevastopol, the home of the Black Sea Fleet, should be given a special status, independent of Kiev.

During discussion of Yegor Gaidar's reforms, one deputy said that he liked Gaidar because "he's like a

boxer, he can really take a blow".

The beleaguered acting prime minister rarely gives any ground to appease his opponents, and clearly has impressed more than just that one legislator by his toughness.

A new poster pasted up in the hallway has Gaidar walking toward a street corner, behind which are hiding two thugs. One holds a club with a head shaped like the parliament's White House, and says to his companion: "They say that Gaidar can really take a blow".