Deputies in the lower house of the Russian legislature, the Duma, have approved the second reading of a ratification bill for the so-called New START nuclear disarmament pact with the United States, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports
Three hundred and forty-nine deputies in the 450-strong Duma voted in favor of ratification of the landmark successor to the most recent Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
The Duma gave its initial backing to the new START on December 24.
The third and final reading of the bill is scheduled for January 25.
The bill then must be approved by the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.