Decorum Please!


This fantastic picture says it all.  Vladimir Putin looks up briefly from his reading material to smile knowingly as Liberal Democrat leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky mouths off about Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov in the Duma last week.  It’s hard not to read the smile as Putin taking pleasure at the fact that Zhirinovsky is digging himself into a hole.  That hole, precisely, is a possible one-month ban on speaking in the State Duma.

United Russia, which holds two thirds ofthe seats and most of the sway in the State Duma will surely get itsway.  But the strangest thing about the call for the ethics commissionto ban Zhirinovsky for the comments he made about Luzhkov is how it isworded.  According to quotes from the MoscowTimes, one of the party’s primary objections was to ‘statementsof such a rude manner and inappropriate tone‘.  There are alsoaccusations of libel thrown in there, of course, but it seems that theemphasis rests far more on decorum than anything else.  
TheMoscowTimes piece quotes one deputy as throwing his weight behind Luzhkovthus: ‘We are 90 percent like-minded with Yury Mikhailovich, he isone of our leaders and any attack on him from another party’s leader iswrong for us.‘  One does not automatically think of Luzkhov as alikely underdog in the minds of Kremlin officials – recent months haveseen plenty of discord between the two over Stalinposters and Rechnikevictions, so it seems likely that this latest debacle is anopportunistic move to silence a left-leaning voice.  It seems entirelylikely that the Kremlin want to hush Zhirinovsky up for the coming monthin order to silence him on a more pressing issue.  Keep your eyespeeled for any controversial Duma moves in the coming weeks…such as these newlyproposed ‘preventative measures‘ against would-be terroriststhat opposition figures are already condemning as ‘a revival ofSoviet-era practices‘.

(Photo credit: Alexei Druzhinin / AP)