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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zhirinovsky Comments Spark Reformist Walkout

Vladimir Zhirinovsky lost his temper and nearly lost his influence in shaping the lower house of the new parliament Wednesday as the Duma's second day proved no less confrontational than its opening.


The ultranationalist insisted at a meeting of the Duma's eight factions that he should run the Duma's session Thursday because his Liberal Democratic Party won the most votes in the Dec. 12 elections.


Zhirinovsky scoffed angrily at a proposal that the parties take turns running the session in alphabetical order until a permanent speaker is elected.


"After the elections, there is no alphabet," he shouted. "The people elected the LDPR. We should be the ones who speak. Everyone else should just breathe."


Representatives of the Duma's three reformist blocs -- Russia's Choice, the Party of Russian Unity and Accord and Yabloko -- and the moderate Women of Russia group left the negotiations in protest.


They returned only after Nikolai Travkin, leader of the opposition-leaning Democratic Party of Russia faction, told them that if Zhirinovsky did not "improve his behavior," the Liberal Democrats would be isolated by the other factions, including the Communists and Agrarians.


The discussions resumed, and it was decided that the elder members of each faction would take two-hour turns running the Duma until a speaker is elected.


Tuesday's inaugural session turned into a free-for-all when reformist deputies refused to vote in protest over the way Georgy Lukava, at 69 the eldest deputy, was running the Duma.


The Duma's full session is scheduled to resume Thursday at 12:30 with Oleg Bogomolov, 66, of the Democratic Party at the chair, followed by the eldest Communist, Vladimir Bokov. Anatoly Lukyanov, 63, on trial for his alleged role in the 1991 coup attempt, is also scheduled to take a turn as the oldest independent candidate on Friday if the Duma has not elected a speaker by then.


However, deputy Sergei Stankevich told reporters that the Duma would likely elect a speaker on Thursday. Leading candidates, Stankevich said, include Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai; Russian ambassador to Washington Vladimir Lukin; Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin, who is also supported by the Communists, and Zhirinovsky.