Moscow, 29 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Deputies in Russia's State Duma, or lower house of parliament, today elected former Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov as Duma speaker. Gryzlov is the most recent interior minister and also heads the Unified Russia party. His top two deputies also come from Unified Russia, and the party holds eight of the Duma's 11 revolving speaker posts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the newly elected Duma to make reforms in education and the health system, affordable housing, and further development of Russia's nascent mortgage system its top priorities.
The Unified Russia party, which backs Putin, won in the election a majority of 246 seats in the 450-seat chamber, making the new Duma the first post-Soviet legislature in which one party has a majority.