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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Switching to Campaign Mode

MTA man vacuuming in the State Duma on Monday as cleaners readied the building for the first sitting of the session.
The State Duma's summer recess officially came to an end Monday, although the first sitting of a session likely to be dominated by populist social initiatives and the conclusion of Kremlin legal initiatives will have to wait another week.

The fall session is the last before the Dec. 2 elections for a new Duma, and President Vladimir Putin is expected to announce the beginning of the official campaign sometime next week.

Despite waiting a week to gather, the fall promises to be a busy one, as the legislature will meet three times per week instead of the usual two.

"The session will see an intensification of work to fulfill the Putin Plan," United Russia Duma Deputy Yevgeny Fyodorov said Monday.

United Russia has chosen the "Putin Plan" for its election platform, which it says is aimed at achieving the country's prosperity based on a number of different Putin initiatives.

Gennady Gudkov, a deputy from A Just Russia, said Monday that the session would not deliver any groundbreaking legislation, but rather a large number of populist initiatives introduced by various parties, including his own.

Gudkov said there would also likely be "clarifying amendments" to election laws, although he would not elaborate other than to say that more attention would be paid to these issues.

Fyodorov said the Duma's fall activities would come within the spheres of four of its committees, dealing with social programs, security, the economy and constitutional legislation.

Alexei Mukhin, an analyst with the Center for Political Information who has examined the Duma's agenda for the upcoming session, said the issues could be divided into two basic groups, related either to populist initiatives or to tightening control ahead of elections.

"This will include amendments to laws like those dealing with mass media and extremism -- anything that would help control the election process," Mukhin said.

The parties in the Duma will not just be looking to raise spending in the social sphere, but also to hand out more money than in the past on the campaign trail.

The national spending allowance for parties in the upcoming campaign will be 400 million rubles ($15.6 million), which is a significant jump from the 250 million ruble ceiling in place in 2003. Parties are also allowed additional spending at the regional level.

Some analysts believe that the raised spending limits will benefit United Russia more than others.

The party accounts for "the major part of the electoral pie and thus needs the largest amount of money," said Sergei Mikheyev, a political analyst with the Center for Political Technologies.

United Russia central committee head Andrei Vorobyov described the new election spending limits as "optimal" in an interview published Monday by Vedomosti.

A Just Russia's Gudkov said his party planned to spend at least $50 million in the campaign, and that he expected that this total would place second or third in total election outlays.