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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russian Duma speaker urges consensus among parties after protests

RIA Novosti

16:04 16/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's parliamentary speaker urged a consensus on Friday among parties in the State Duma after protests over the October 11 regional elections dominated by pro-Kremlin United Russia.

Two of the three parties that walked out of the lower house of parliament on Wednesday in protest against alleged election violations returned on Friday. The nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and the Kremlin-backed A Just Russia ended the boycott, but the Communists said they would continue the protest.

"For me, it is a matter of principle that all the factions take part in the lawmaking process. I believe we will achieve this goal," Boris Gryzlov told a Duma session.

LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said at the start of the session that his party wants the October 14 protest to be "a lesson for all of us."

"We are back to work, we have been promised a meeting with the president and five minutes for political statements [during plenary sessions]," Zhirinovsky said.

A Just Russia leader Nikolai Levichev called Wednesday's walkout a "minute of truth," which made the opposition's voice heard.

LDPR demanded a nationwide recount and said elections to legislatures in Moscow, Central Russia's Tula Region and the Volga Republic of Mari El should be declared non-valid and a new vote scheduled.

A senior United Russia member, Andrei Isayev, welcomed the parties' return, saying he was glad they "remembered their duty to voters" and expressed hope the communists would "stop demanding additional votes" and would also be back to work soon.

Opposition parties insist there were widespread violations during Sunday's polls. A number of people were detained during an unsanctioned protest against the results of the polls in central Moscow on Friday.

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