Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 129

According to presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev, Boris Yeltsin has asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of the amendments attached by the Duma in October to the draft law on the "legal status of deputies" (a law on parliamentary immunity). In his inquiry to the Court, Yeltsin expressed concern that the extension of parliamentary immunity envisaged by the amendments may, in effect, license deputies to engage in criminal activity, thus "distorting the meaning of parliamentary immunity." (5)

Yeltsin’s request follows a botched effort by the Internal Affairs Ministry and the Central Electoral Commission to publish the list of candidates for the Duma with criminal records. The presidential inquiry reflects well-grounded public concern that wealthy criminals may buy their way into the Duma. For egregious example, notorious Dmitry Yakubovsky and Valentina Solovieva (the latter a mastermind of the Vlastilina pyramid scheme) tried from their prison cells to register as candidates. Both failed eventually.