Viacheslav Volodin speaking at the first plenary session of the spring session of the State Duma. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin / TASS
No matter how many times I see this moment, every time I see it I can’t contain my excitement. January 17, 2023, the first meeting of the State Duma in the new spring-summer session. It opens with the Russian anthem. The deputies listen to him standing up, which we, the journalists, are watching from the balcony of the spectators.
The session opens with a speech by the president, Vyacheslav Volodin. He talks about the structure of the moment:
“Washington and Brussels’ plan to ‘isolate Russia’ failed,” says Vyacheslav Viktorovich. Deputies respond with applause.
In addition, according to tradition, the representatives of each of the five factions speak. In the absence of Zhirinovsky, the great Russian geostrategist who died last spring, the permanent leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Gennady Zyuganov, burns for all with napalm:
– Vlasovites are everywhere, the fifth column flickers. It is high time to give Stalingrad its historical name back! – so Gennady Andreevich proposes to “solve the problem” with bridges and tunnels, through which NATO ammunition is delivered to Ukraine. And it also goes through the suffering Russian economy. For example, the average growth we have in the last 30 years is 1% per year. Other players, including socialist China, have much more.
After some time, Volodin gently objected to these words of Zyuganov:
“If we were weak or rotten, no one would need us. The political and economic model created by the President has proven its effectiveness.
The next speaker, the Socialist-Revolutionary Sergei Mironov, exposes what is on the lips of many:
– I want to say about the private military company (PMC) “Wagner”. It was thanks to her efforts that Solelar was released. Yes, with the support of the Russian army. But there is no need to part, they are all heroes.
But newcomer to the Duma, New People party boss Alexei Nechaev, has a heart for small business:
– Putting the national economy on a war footing is a disastrous idea. This will empty store shelves and deprive many of their income. We need a mobilization “reserve” for entrepreneurs who really work…
Then Volodin again takes the floor. And he says that you have to think not only of those who need a “reserve”, but also of those who are obliged to protect the State:
“To work in public service, to be elected deputy, you need a military specialty and service in the Armed Forces,” Volodin opines.
Then to the meeting itself. And the first question is historical. On the mutual recognition of visas between Russia and Belarus. Because now everything is quite absurd: the Moscow-Minsk train runs without border inspection, but foreigners cannot use it – the Union State does not have its own “Schengen zone”, as in the EU in its best years. And now it will! Another imperceptible but important step in the integration of our two sister countries.
I look towards the audience balcony on the other side of the great hall. There is a school trip. Teenagers are sitting on chairs, testing the role of people’s choices. After all, the state in which they will live is, first of all, labor institutions. Like the State Duma.