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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lawmakers Divided on Legacy of This Duma

The State Duma on Friday met for its final session, passing 19 bills and dissolving itself ahead of the Dec. 2 Duma elections.

The outgoing lawmakers gave drastically different appraisals of their work over the past four years, ranging from harsh criticism to pompous commendations.

"I think we have worked professionally, successfully and have made a significant contribution to Russia's development in all of the most important aspects," Duma Speaker and United Russia leader Boris Gryzlov told some 400 deputies.

Gryzlov went on to heap praise on deputies for, among other things, "having been able to build good relations with the executive branch of power."

Deputies "often argued with ministries, but we all had one goal: creating a great Russia," said Gryzlov, whose speech was periodically greeted by thin applause.

The heavy applause came when Gryzlov referred to President Vladimir Putin, who is running alone on United Russia's federal ticket in the upcoming elections, as well as when he boasted of the giant sums of money to be allocated by the federal government for social projects and various sectors of the economy in the coming three years.

"I am convinced that the policies of our national leader will be safely secured in the [new] parliament," Gryzlov exclaimed.

Meanwhile, the few opposition and independent deputies slammed the inefficiency of the outgoing Duma.

Independent deputy Nikolai Kuryanovich, a hardcore nationalist, said the Duma had "only dishonored itself" and denounced it as "decorative body that doesn't decide anything." He suggested a Constitutional amendment abolishing the lower house.

Friday's session, which lasted almost five hours, ended with a recorded rendition of the national anthem while deputies stood solemnly, some of them singing along.

Journalists watching the session on large televisions in the pressroom saw an exhausted Gryzlov halfheartedly singing along, with despondent eyes and slouching shoulders.

Awards granted by Putin were handed out at the end of the session to 13 deputies, including billionaire businessman Alexander Lebedev from A Just Russia, who received an award for distinguished state service.

Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky arrived at the Duma in a motley, colorful outfit, telling reporters that he was sick of wearing the black suits preferred by deputies.

"As if we were all in mourning," Zhirinovsky said, adding that he had bought a cheap jacket for Friday's occasion.

Zhirinovsky said the outgoing deputies were "more mature" than their predecessors. "There are fewer extremists, the Communists have become quiet, the democrats are gone," he said.

Speaking on behalf of his party, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov took credit for successful legislation passed by the outgoing Duma.

"We made them think of a new economic policy and take social programs seriously," Zyuganov said.