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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Deputies Deprived of Perks As Budget Woes Hit Duma

A financial crisis in the State Duma caused by a severe shortfall in government funding is forcing dramatic cutbacks.

"The situation is very simple. The Duma has no money," said Anna Ivanova, head of the Duma's financial administration.

In 1995, the last session of the Duma requested 759 billion rubles ($151 million) from the government to cover salaries, transport, maintenance of buildings and the expenses of the 500 deputies, but only 239 billion rubles were granted in the 1996 budget.

In the first half of 1996 only 106 billion rubles were actually paid, a shortfall of 12 percent on what was promised.

"The result [of the cuts] is that we go around on foot, don't make any telephone calls and don't pay our assistants," said Dmitry Krasnikov, head of the Duma's organization committee.

"We are going to introduce a Western system," Krasnikov said. "The deputies will receive a certain sum, and they will decide themselves whether they arrive at work on the metro or in an imported car, whether they go on business trips every day or every month, and whether they need one assistant or 10."

At present, Duma deputies receive a salary of 837,000 rubles per month, and are officially banned from pursuing other business or professional activities while in office. Perks such as free international telephone calls, postage and cars have already been drastically reduced, said Krasnikov.

He denied that the squeeze had anything to do with tensions between the presidential administration and the Duma.

"We are in the same position [as] other government-funded bodies," said Krasnikov. "Only 26 percent of expected tax revenue was collected by the government in July, so there is very little money ... We are trying to build capitalism, but on socialist principles."