Though everyone is focused on the protests at Pushkin Square, there has been an even more interesting development out of Kudymkar, Perm (pop. 30,000). The United Russia majority bloc of deputies had planned electoral reforms, which would have ended the direct election of the mayor and draw him from the body of deputies instead. Seven of the twenty deputies resigned in protest earlier this month and have now submitted a complaint to a Perm Court asking that the current City Duma be declared incompetent. The basis of their claim is the lack of quorum for meetings of the Duma (you need 14 deputies for quorum). Russian political experts are saying that such an event is without precedent in Russia and that even if their argument does not prevail in court, it sends an important message. Specifically, it shows that local politics – unlike the national variety – does matter to Russians and attempts by the center via the ‘party of power’ may encounter resistance. In a recent interview, one of the seven deputies – Leonid Viktorovich Rassad – stated that the group may rejoin the Duma as members of Right Cause (Правое Дело), which may or may not be a falshivki opposition party.
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