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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

13 Turn Down Seats in Duma




Thirteen people elected to the State Duma on their party's federal list have refused to take their seats - including leaders of the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia blocs - and their mandates will go to other members of their parties, the Central Election Commission said Monday.


Those who have preferred to keep their old jobs are Unity leader Sergei Shoigu, the emergency situations minister; seven members of Fatherland-All Russia, including two of its three leaders, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev; the Zhirinovsky Bloc's Stanislav Zhebrovsky; and four members of the Communist Party - including the governors of the Tula and Kemerovo regions, Vasily Starodubtsev and Aman Tuleyev.


The regional leaders, who also hold seats in the Federation Council, parliament's upper house, wield far more power than they would as members of the lower house.


Former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, the other Fatherland-All Russia leader, has decided to take his Duma seat, as has former Duma speaker Gennady Seleznov, a communist who lost a narrow race for governor of the Moscow region.


Under elections law, if a member of a bloc's top troika refuses the Duma seat, the whole list is immediately scratched. However, an exception is made if the person has a "good reason," such as serious illness or a top state job, according to Artyom Golev, a Central Elections Commission spokesman.


If a candidate farther down on the list refuses the Duma seat and his or her reason is not considered good enough, the party loses the seat, Golev said.


"While theoretically possible, such a thing has never happened in reality," he said.


The precedent for turning down parliament seats was set during the 1995 Duma elections, when all three leaders of Our Home Is Russia - then Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin; movie director Nikita Mikhalkov and General Lev Rokhlin - refused their seats.


If the 13 people who moved up on the party lists confirm by Tuesday that they wish to work in the Duma , they will receive their mandates, together with 212 others elected as part of the federal lists, at a ceremony at the Central Election Commission's office.


But there is no deadline, and those people whose confirmations are late will receive their mandates separately, Golev said.


Elections for single-mandate seats failed to produce results in eight regions and were not held in Chechnya, so only 216 deputies representing individual districts will receive their mandates from local election commissions. This gives the Duma a total of 441 deputies.