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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Approves Its Own Perks

The government is in crisis, the ruble is plummeting -- but you have to live too.

That appeared to be the message from the deputies of the State Duma on Thursday, when they gave preliminary approval to a law providing them with cars, apartments and a pay raise.

Russia's new lawmakers, irked that they were making only 90 percent of what a minister earns, voted a 10 percent pay raise for themselves to 270,000 rubles. In February, when a minister's salary is expected to jump to 300,000 rubles, so will the deputies'.

The big losers in all this were the ministers who are in the Duma. From now on, Nationalities Minister Sergei Shakhrai, Economics Minister Alexander Shokhin, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zaveryukha will only draw their salaries as legislators.

The big winner is Ivan Rybkin, who will receive an added 40 percent for being speaker. There is also 50 percent per month bonus for "special or intensive work."

Rank and file deputies will have a monthly expense budget of five minimum wages. The minimum wage is currently 14,640 rubles a month.

Like their predecessors in the former Supreme Soviet, the deputies will enjoy free transportation -- and the right to purchase their air and rail tickets without standing in line. Other perks include an apartment in Moscow, free phone calls and a car for each deputy that he can use at any time of the day.

When this last point passed late Wednesday, it was too much for populist politician Nikolai Travkin.

"Are you crazy," Travkin exclaimed from the podium during Wednesday's session. "What are we doing?"

Deputies calmly adjourned and approved the measures Thursday.

Also on Thursday, deputies rejected proposals by Travkin to conduct an investigation of President Boris Yeltsin's dissolution and subsequent bombardment of the old Supreme Soviet last fall.