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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Deputies Vote Themselves Pay Hike to $415 a Month

The State Duma on Wednesday passed legislation boosting payments to citizens who live off the meager state budget - themselves.

The deputies voted 297-77 to raise their monthly salaries from 6,000 rubles a month to 10,000 rubles ($250 to $415) - and to give themselves three month's severance pay to tide them over to the next election in case President Boris Yeltsin dissolves the Duma.

If the changes to the law "On the Status of State Duma Deputies and Members of the Federation Council" get the approval of the president and the Federation Council in the next few days, the law could be in effect in time for legislators to take advantage of hefty new vacation stipends when they recess for the summer.

The Duma passed the bill amid its end-of-session rush to push through priority legislation, such as bills needed for Russia to receive new loans from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The session ends Friday.

Russian deputies may not be the world's highest-paid legislators, but neither are they among Russia's poorest citizens. Their salaries before the increase were more than four times the national average. In addition, they live in elite government apartments, ride around in government cars and even have their own parliamentary masseuse.

The Duma deputies will get 48 days of paid vacation time, with the equivalent of four months' pay as vacation stipends for "treatment in sanatoria and resorts."

Apparently with an eye to maintaining equality among the branches of government, the bill grants Duma deputies and their colleagues at the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, the same benefits as Cabinet ministers.

Federation Council members - who also hold top posts in the regions - get paid out of regional budgets and won't get a pay raise or vacation, but will share in the other benefits.

But Federation Council members do qualify for medical and life insurance, and when they retire - two years earlier than the rest of the population - they can request the equivalent of up to 75 percent of a Cabinet minister's salary to boost their government pensions.

All legislators receive immunity from prosecution, which can be revoked only if the chamber votes to do so. Under the changes, if that happens, the chamber has the right to review the case before it goes to court.