Last week both chambers of the Russian parliament gathered for a special session in St. Petersburg to mark the 100th anniversary of the opening of the first State Duma.While Putin's absolute monopoly over political power in Russia leaves him as the only figure to work with Western counterparts, it also greatly reduces the space for mutual understanding. Fraternizing with the surprisingly popular Merkel in Tomsk, Putin discovered that the only topics available for pleasant conversations are gas and more gas and, well, Siberian cuisine. He has more issues in common with Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenka, who rushed to St. Petersburg after jailing the leaders of the Belarusian opposition, but Putin finds little pleasure in rubbing shoulders with him (Kommersant, April 29). This year Putin has postponed his traditional April address to the parliament, causing speculation as to the reason. Perhaps the idea of dissolving it appears too tempting?
Baev, Pavel K. (2006) Not Quite 100 Years of Russian Curtailed Parliamentarism, Eurasia Daily Monitor. 1 May.