So Russia has just bid farewell to the most controversial, the most disturbing, and the most ridiculous parliament it has ever seen.
The outgoing State Duma, which came to office in early 2012 in the shadow of a contested election and massive street protests, will go down in history as the legislature that produced laws that were repressive, absurd, and sometimes just plain weird.
Among other things, it criminalized blasphemy and so-called "gay propaganda," it banned foreign adoptions, and it made sharing and liking content on social media the Kremlin doesn't like a criminal offense.
It forced charities receiving funding from abroad to register as foreign agents. It allowed police to monitor citizens for so-called "antisocial behavior." And it lowered the minimum age for criminal prosecution for many offenses to 14.
It even banned synthetic lace panties.
I could go on, but we'd run out of time.
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So yeah, it's easy to ridicule the outgoing State Duma.
But the thing is, with no separation of powers in Russia, the parliament is nothing more than an extension of the Kremlin.
Its actions were nothing more than a manifestation of the priorities of the regime.
It was only doing as it was told.
And if this Duma sometimes appeared a bit over the top, this was either a psy-op to scare the West or just theater to make Vladimir Putin look reasonable and statesmanlike in comparison.
So if this Duma was a theater of the absurd, the director was in the Kremlin.
And that show is now ending. But the sequel will probably be just as disturbing.
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