In the early 1990s, parliamentary politics was at the heart of Russian politics. It was the deadlocked battle for supremacy between the Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, and the chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Ruslan Khasbulatov, that ended with the shelling of the White House – the then-seat of Russia’s permanent parliament. This violent confrontation ultimately claimed the lives of many in Moscow, with upper estimates reaching 1,000 people (see Chapter 6). Now, the Federal Assembly is dismissed as a mere ‘rubber stamp’ – a body that unthinkingly nods through decisions made by the Presidential Administration and the government. What changed? How did we get from violence to passivity, from parliament being at the centre of political life, to it (apparently) playing a largely peripheral, symbolic role?.
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