Duma

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Russian elections: ethnic Armenian representation reduced in Duma

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Thursday December 08, 2011

WASHINGTON - The new Russian Duma elected on December 4 is likely to have between two and four ethnic Armenians, all of them are members of the opposition A Just Russia party.

According to the analysis published in the Yerevan-based Novoye Vremya newspaper on December 6 and based on preliminary election results, Oganes Oganian and Igor Torosian won seats from Perm' and Sochi party lists, respectively.

Two other politicians of Armenian descent, Kaluga's Andrey Perchian and Novocherkassk's Andrey Karabedov, also retain chances of entering the parliament.

The election, criticized by the United States as not democratic, saw the ruling United Russia party win about 49 percent of the votes, followed by the Communists with 19 percent, A Just Russia with over 13 percent and populist Liberal Democratic Party with 12 percent.

The 450-seat Duma previously had five ethnic members: Artur Chilingarov and Konstantin Shorshorov from United Russia, Liberal Democrats Ashot Yeghiazarian and Arkady Sarkisyan and A Just Russia's Semyon Bagdasarov.

The most prominent of them and best known for his role in exploration of the Arctic, former Duma Deputy Speaker Chilingarov will now represent the Tula Oblast in the Federation Council, the Russian parliament's upper chamber whose members are appointed by provincial governments.

There are two more ethnic Armenians in the 166-member Council: Aleksandr Ter-Avanesov on behalf of Kostroma Oblast (in his second term that now expires in 2015) and Vladimir Djabarov for the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (appointed in 2009 thru December 2011).

Among the former deputies, Shorshorov and Bagdasarov ran but were not re-elected; Sarkisyan became a senior executive for a major Russian corporation; and Yeghiazarian, a former banker, is wanted on charges of fraud and is said to be now living in the United States.

Ethnic Armenians number between 1.5 and 2 million of Russia's population of 145 million.