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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Deputies Mourn Colleague

The State Duma on Wednesday cut short its plenary session to allow deputies to attend the funeral of their colleague Valentin Martemyanov, who died last week of the effects of a severe beating.

The session, which lasted for just 15 minutes, began with the legislators paying tribute to Martemyanov, a respected lawyer who was a member of the Communist Party faction.

A hushed, downbeat legislature decided to hold a special session on fighting crime next Wednesday, with all the law enforcement ministers invited to attend. Speaker Ivan Rybkin told reporters that he had received assurances from the Interior Ministry that a specially formed team of investigators would conduct an extensive search for Martemyanov's murderer.

About 200 deputies attended the memorial service. A few people wept during the brief, stark ceremony, attended by the deputy's widow, son, daughter and grandson.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov recalled that Martemyanov, the second deputy to meet a violent death since the Duma was elected last year, was one of the lawyers who defended the Communist Party in a Constitutional Court trial after it was banned following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"We are sorry, Valentin Sergeyevich, for having failed to protect you," a somber and subdued Zyuganov said.

"The least we can do is keep up your good work," Zyuganov continued, referring to several court cases Martemyanov won for the party and the communist press facing closure proceedings from the government.

All the parliamentary factions sent wreaths to the funerals, but few reformers were present at the service. However, hardline deputies, visibly depressed by the death of their comrade, made no attempt to attach political significance to Martemyanov's death.

There were no calls for the resignation of Interior Minister Viktor Yerin or the overthrow of the government. The deputies main concern was that the murderer be found. "We have to say firmly: The murderer must be caught," said Natalya Malakhatkina of the centrist Women of Russia faction.