To the editors:
In the Jan. 5 comment, “‘Putin’ Russia on our Radar Screens,” Stephen W. Stromberg ’05 writes: “This time around, Putin’s management worked like a charm. The pro-Kremlin party United Russia—which has a vaguely nationalistic platform based around support for the president—won the largest share of the vote of any electoral faction in the history of post-Soviet parliamentary politics, 37.5 percent.”
United Russia did obtain 37.5% of the Party List vote, but that only elects half of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma. When we take into account the full vote from Dec. 7, 2003, Party List and Single Seats vote, United Russia was four seats short of majority: 49.1% Furthermore, between Dec. 7 and Dec. 30 (the inaugural session of the new Duma), no less than 54 independents and deputies of other parties joined United Russia to give it precisely 300 seats. 300 out of 450, that’s two thirds, so United Russia alone can enact all the legislation it wants, including amendments to the constitution.
San Francisco, Calif.
Jan. 6, 2004