Medvedev Announces First Session of Russia’s New Duma

Posted December 13th, 2011 at 1:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has announced the first session of the country's newly elected parliament, despite protests against alleged fraud during parliamentary elections earlier this month.

Mr. Medvedev on Tuesday told a meeting of the leaders of parties that won seats in the State Duma, or lower house, that the first session will be held December 21. His announcement follows nationwide anti-government protests against the December 4 vote, which the opposition and observers say was rigged to favor the United Russia party.

The demonstrators called for the official results to be annulled and for a new election. Mr. Medvedev has said complaints about election violations should be examined carefully by courts and election officials.

Earlier Tuesday, the owner of Kommersant Publishing, Alisher Usmanov, fired an editor and a senior manager in connection with what he described as a breach of ethics for its coverage of the election in the Kommersant Vlast weekly magazine. Usmanov fired the magazine's editor, Maxim Kovalsky, and the holding company's general director, Andrei Galiyev.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be United Russia's candidate in the March presidential elections. Sergei Mironov, leader of the social democratic Just Russia party, and Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov say they will run against Mr. Putin.

United Russia — which has dominated Russian politics for more than a decade — took about 50 percent of the vote and now holds a slim majority in the State Duma. But opposition parties and observers contend the winning results were probably inflated. The ruling party's leaders have denied cheating.

The Communists, along with the nationalist Liberal Democrats and Just Russia all made strong gains in the vote, meaning United Russia will be forced to work with the newly empowered opposition.

If he regains the presidency, the 59-year-old Mr. Putin could serve two more six-year terms and remain in power until 2024. He was first elected president in 2000 and held that post until 2008, when he assumed the post of prime minister due to term limits.