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Russian Parliamentary Elections and the Future of Russian Democracy

Recorded on December 4, 2007

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium

President Vladimir Putin will lead the United Russia party list in the forthcoming December 2 Duma elections. These are the first of two major events in the 2007-2008 political cycle (the second being the March 2008 presidential elections). In addition to United Russia, the Communists, Just Russia, Liberal Democratic Party and a slew of smaller parties are competing for the Russians' votes.

To Russians, parliamentary elections are not as critical as a presidential vote. Under the Constitution, the Russian parliament's role is circumscribed by the presidential rule and a feeble civil society. In addition, with Russia's weak checks-and-balances system, dramatic strengthening of the executive branch under President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin's control over large parties, the lower house has become a trusted ally of the incumbent administration.

Is this about to change? What are implications of the December elections on the future of multi-party democracy and separation of powers in Russia? How will the country be governed and will it remain on a democratic path?