Account of 7 Feb State Duma Brawl Following Use of Unparliamentary Language
8 February 2003
"Hit Him and Curse Him"
Yesterday [7 February], State Duma waged a fight over the richness of the great and powerful Russian language.
Aleksandr Fedulov, who enjoys a reputation in the State Duma as a relentless fighter against communism, an advocate of monarchy, and persistent campaigner for banning the Communist Part of the Russian Federation and erecting a monument to Russia's last holy royal family on Lubyanka, and who is also known for having been shamefully expelled from two Duma factions, was the first to take a combat stance. Obviously, Fedulov is dreaming of Zhirinovskiy's laurels and, above all, his ratings skyrocketing thanks to scandals. He decided to repeat Zhirinovskiy's "heroic Iraqi deed" -- to tell the sacred truth. However, not the truth about the U.S. president but the one about a much more trivial issue. At the same time he decided to protect his dear role model from calumnies. "Why are you picking on Zhirinovskiy?" Aleksandr Fedulov asked when he took the floor at the very beginning of the Duma's plenary session yesterday. "Gennadiy Zyuganov, for instance, offends our president and other Russian authorities on every corner, but nobody calls him to account." And then, Fedulov called Zyuganov the same name Lenin once called Lev Trotsky -- a prostitute -- and even added No. 1 to the incumbent communist leader.
"Deputy Fedulov, I warn you," Gennadiy Seleznev tried to moderate his colleague who was flying into a rage. "Okay," Fedulov responded and openly called for putting an end to political... his further expression does not deserve to be quoted.
Having finished his emotional speech spiced with obscenities Aleksandr Fedulov cast a victorious look at the session hall. And did not notice that Vasiliy Shandybin, a Bryansk worker, was quietly albeit resolutely approaching him from the lower section of the hall, and when he did notice, he even smiled friendly at him. In response Shandybin unexpectedly grabbed Fedulov by the lapels.
"Vasiliy Ivanovich, you're going to strangle him," Gennadiy Seleznev said nervously referring to the difference in the fighting deputies' weight categories. However, Fedulov rapidly recovered his feet, tightened his muscles, dealt several boxing blows, and caught Shandybin by his tie.
The deputies were separated and escorted to their seats. For the use of obscene language Fedulov was deprived of the right to speak up for one day. It was proposed to ban him from the rostrum for a month, but the liberal democrats backed their latter-day comrade-in-arms. Vladimir Zhirinovskiy pointed out that there is nothing bad in Fedulov's substandard vocabulary: "The people speak this way, and we are representatives of the people." Aleksey Mitrofanov cited a classical example: In the unabridged 55 volumes of his works Lenin went much farther than that. It is not words but the ultimate goal that matter to revolutionaries. And, generally speaking, deputies should be allowed to speak as they please. They also recalled Ivan the Terrible, who did not shun obscenities despite his royal status.... Nobody even mentioned the Law "On the State Language of the Russian Federation," which had been passed at the previous session and which does not allow people holding posts and legislative seats to use obscenities.
The topic so greatly excited people's deputies that whatever they discussed further the notorious words were mentioned again and again. At times Duma deputies did not understand what they should comment on -- the situation in Iraq or the richness of the Russian language.
"What is our Commission for Ethics doing?" deputy Vladimir Pashuto finally asked. And Sergey Kovalev suggested that the commission be disbanded altogether.
Committee for Ethics Chairwoman Galina Strelchenko reassured journalists after the morning session that the commission is controlling the situation and sees everything. In the immediate future it will try to give up the confidentiality principle it observed in its work until now. And will publish deputies' complete files on a monthly basis. Prior to that, however, it will ensure that the Code of Deputies' Ethics is adopted to specify what is good and what is bad and to tell deputies how to behave in line with the letter of the law.