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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Electoral Bills Passed in Final Reading

The State Duma on Wednesday finalized electoral reforms seen by the Kremlin as enhancing political stability but by critics as risking a revolution by alienated government opponents.

The Duma overwhelmingly approved in a third, final reading a raft of charges to 13 legislative acts to bring them into line with earlier amendments to the law on elections that exclude small parties from political life.

"The country is moving toward a two-party system," Deputy Alexei Mitrofanov of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party, or LDPR, told the Duma.

"In the end, there will be two parties: United Russia and LDPR," Mitrofanov said.

Communist Deputy Oleg Smolin warned that pushing small parties out of parliament could take political battles from the legislature to the streets.

"The previous Duma had an orderly Yabloko," Smolin told the Duma, referring to the liberal party that lost its place in the Duma in 2003 elections.

"Now we are seeing [Yabloko leader Sergei] Mitrokhin rallying in the streets. Who comes next?" he said.

Smolin said the new election rules would provoke opposition protests over any future election. In the last two years, huge protests over fraudulent elections have toppled governments in Ukraine and Georgia.

Moscow has been increasingly alarmed by the prospect of Ukraine's Orange Revolution repeating itself in Russia, but some Russian politicians believe a revolution would bring to power ultranationalists. "The authors of this law are preparing Russia for an orange, a blue, a red or, God forbid, a brown revolution," Smolin said.

Under Wednesday's legislation, which applies to both national and regional elections and were proposed by the Kremlin, independent deputies will not be allowed to run for seats.

Parties will not be allowed to form blocs for electoral advantage, and the threshold for winning Duma seats will rise from 5 percent to 7 percent.