“Semi-factions” comprising a lawmaker or two will appear in the Duma in accordance with President Dmitry Medvedev’s idea to see representatives of small political parties in the lower house of the parliament.

President Dmitry Medvedev said in his message to the Federal Assembly last November that it would be nice to see in the Duma representatives of political parties that polled 5-7% in the federal parliamentary election. This particular scheme is about to be translated into action.

Insiders say the Central Electoral Commission took an active part in the work on the draft law. In a word, what political parties polled 5% in the election may count on one seat on the Duma and whoever polled 6% and more on two seats.

Sources in the Duma meanwhile claim that representatives of small parties will wield the powers currently wielded by whole factions. They will be able to nominate candidates for vacancies on the Central Electoral Commission, receive and distribute documents, participate in discussion of organizational matters at the Duma Council. Lawmakers representing “political midgets” will be prohibited to join other political structures or faction buts permitted to form alliances of their own. They will be permitted to install aides to work with electorates in between three and seven Russian regions each. Deputies from the parliamentary political parties these days are permitted aides in only three regions.

“The political structure that polled more than 5% will be able to register its candidates for deputies in elections at all levels and even its candidates for president,” a source in the Central Electoral Commission added. “Moreover, they will be spared the necessity to collect signatures in their support.” As long as a party such as this has its representative on the Duma, it will have guarantees of non-liquidation on the pretext of insufficiently large membership, the source added. If the political party is nevertheless liquidated, say, for non-participation in elections or for extremism, its Duma representative must resign.

Right Cause Chairman Boris Titov called the draft law in question a step in the correct direction. Titov said this political party fully intended to poll more than 7% anyway but was not averse to making use of any other opportunity to install its representatives in the Duma.

Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin assumed that representatives of small political parties would probably enjoy all trappings of power currently reserved for leaders of Duma factions (auto with a personal chauffeur, state dacha, voting rights at the Duma Council, and participation in meetings with the president). “In a word, ability to represent genuine interests of voters will be the only thing denied them,” Mitrokhin said.