The lower house of the parliament cost Russian taxpayers nearly 5 billion rubles in 2008.

According to the figures provided by the Duma apparatus, expenses of the lower house of the parliament were initially set at 5.2 billion rubles. The federal budget was then amended on two occasions, and 145 million rubles more were found for lawmakers. In other words, the Duma budget in 2008 topped the previous year budget by 664 million rubles or 14.2%. It more or less compensated for the inflation.

When the economic crisis set in, the Duma budget was sequestered and ended up amounting to 4,818,341,300 rubles. Together with the 600 plus million rubles worth of government support distributed among four political parties represented in the Duma, sum total was quite ample all the same. (The government found but 1.5 billion rubles in 2008 for non-governmental organizations involved in development of civil society in Russia.)

One would think that the sequestered Duma budget meant that lawmakers decided to cut it to help the Russian state in its time of need, but the Committee for Budget and Taxes dispelled this illusion. As it turned out, the lower house of the parliament transacted nearly 530 million rubles from its bank accounts to those of the Directorate of Presidential Affairs as owner of the Duma building on Okhotny Ryad. In other words, the half a billion rubles were withdrawn from one pocket of the state only to be put into another.

The document on fulfillment of the budgetary estimate meanwhile shows that the Duma spent all of the 366 million rubles earmarked for lawmakers in the regions i.e. the money with which they rent and keep offices, pay for communications and transport, and so on. These cheques are covered by regional budgets which are then recompensed by the federal one. Discussing the 2009 budget, the United Russia faction undertook to sequester this article but the opposition joined ranks and killed the initiative. As if to celebrate, lawmakers representing United Russia’s political enemies began touring the country and the world even more energetically than ever before. As a result, practically everything set aside for trips in 2009 was expended in the first four months of the year. All the same, parties of the opposition dismiss United Russia’s calls to try and save money as hypocritical. Which is hardly surprising, of course. The ruling party controls sufficient resources and can afford it. Its political adversaries, however, are notoriously short of finances of their own.