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Outcomes of the parliamentary year: what was the 2013-14 season like for MPs?


This week, the parliamentary year of the Legislative Council officially finished. While deputies are away on holidays, Dmitriy Runkov compared St. Petersburg of the past and one of the present.


Yuriy Zinchuk, host “Pulse of the City”: “The race for governor’s seat is ahead. All twists and political intrigues of this historic event are ahead. And the 2013-14 parliamentary season is already just a line in the political history books of St. Petersburg.

This week saw the final parliamentary session before vacations. Now lets think. 50 deputies. People involved in legislative duties had been sitting at sessions, arguing, solved matters. And what is the outcome? What is the outcome of their work for us – ordinary residents of St. Petersburg? How did it all affect the city and us? All these laws, bills, norms, regulation and so on. Dmitriy Runkov went on an excursion across the city and compared St. Petersburg in the beginning of the parliamentary year with the one after the season finished. Here is what he saw.

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “During the season, the parliament adopted 400 laws and regulations. That’s at least 15 laws in one session. The fact suggesting this was not merely paperwork is that several of these decisions changed the life of St. Petersburg.

Thanks to the Legislative Council, this year the food ration of St. Petersburg residents has changed. That is of course if you eat according to the officially regulated basket of goods. Comparing to last year, the amount of potatoes and noodles hasn’t become smaller, but the amount of fruits doubled, the amount of meat by a third. The gastronomic budget increased by a 100 rubles and doesn’t even reach 4000. And that includes 1700 rubles for utility payments, transport fees, haircut and other vital needs.

Alexey Kovalev, deputy of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Council: “The system which is used to evaluate the basket of goods is in itself a deception of the public. Because of the way prices for meat products are being estimated. Like the price of salami of 120 rubles per kilo and is regarded as a meat product despite having no meat in it”

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “The city’s budget, approved by the Legislative Council is sharply different to those of before. For the first time, a huge amount of money has been reserved for the subway’s development. The “Vasileostrovskaya” station already has entrance restrictions in place because of reconstruction, but soon these inconveniences will be gone. Second entrance to the “Sportivnaya” station will be opened, followed by 20 new stations of the subway. Such a tempo of construction has not been seen for almost 3 decades”

But the main part of the budget is social spending. For instance, 170 new schools and kindergartens will be built until 2020.

Vyacheslav Makarov, chairman of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Council: “Every amendment was thoroughly worked out. The deputies and the administration saw that these amendments are destined to solve actual problems, which had to be dealt with immediately.

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “This year in St. Petersburg became the year of bans. The guarantor of morality is again Vitaliy Milonov. It was his initiative to ban concerts of the “Okean Elzy” band – first in the city, then in the rest of the country. This was a response to the band’s support of the events at Kiev’s Maidan. Although, at some point it seemed that Milonov changed his strict views and suggested abolishing his own law prohibiting gay-propaganda among minors. But it turned out that this happened not because the deputy became closer to the LGBT-community, but because the St. Petersburg-born law became a federal one, so that meant there was no need for city-wide regulations anymore.

Milonov continued his protection of minors by imposing a curfew for them. From now on, the under-aged are not allowed to be out in the streets after 22 hours. Bars and sex shops are closed to them at all times. If a minor is spotted at a night disco, the fine will be paid either by parents or organizers”

Vitaliy Milonov, deputy of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Council: “I remember going to discos myself. It was wonderful”

Boris Vishnevskiy, deputy of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Council: “My elder son is a first year student in an university, recently passed his entrance exams. He just turned 17, but he’s taller than me and physically well-built. I imagine how he has to take his daddy to a date with his girlfriend, because he would definitely be returning home after 22 hours”

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “Those who like a drink on white nights will also have to live by a timetable. The Legislative Council has decided when a “prohibition” starts in the city. It took them a while to find a sensible solution; the time when alcohol was forbidden for sale had been changed a few times. The eventual decision – you cannot buy alcohol from 22 to 11.

Vladimir Dmitriev, deputy of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Council: “The matter of letting people have a hangover morning drink is being discussed. A drunk cannot be limited”

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “The last month has been a nightmare for the country’s smokers. Starting from June, smoking was outlawed in all cafes, trains and hotels. Deputies of St. Petersburg added communal flats to this long list. It is easier to say now where smoking is allowed – either at your own homes or in designated places outside.

Demonstration of tobacco produce was equated to something vulgar, and stores have concealed cigarette packs behind thick steel shields. The severity of this law is compensated by the quality of its execution. Policemen – among whom there are a lot of smokers, too – issue around 20 violation protocols per day. Tobacco shops whisper about ridding smokers of nicotine hunger.

Elena Kiseleva, deputy of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Council: “I have this bad habit too. That’s why my friends find it amusing. But I also dislike spaces with a lot of smoking”

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “The parliament was also ready to place new restrictions into the municipal elections law. The opposition prepared its own election project, destined to rid of any vote-rigging. The “Yabloko” deputy Boris Vishnevskiy even said he would cut his beard off if his colleagues from the “LDPR” acted as opposition and supported his bill. But – for better or worse – Vishnevskiy will keep his beard for a while”

Konstantin Sukhenko, deputy of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Council: “I would indeed do something to see Boris Lazarevich without his beard. Seriously though, Boris Lazarevich wants us to vote with them. But we are LDPR and we have our own policies”


Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “The upcoming municipal and governor’s elections will turn the deputy vacations into a pure formality. The parties will fight for seats, and some MPs even see themselves as future governors of the city. So this end of the parliamentary season is in fact a beginning of a very promising new stage”