July 10, 2024

Baikal, not Bali


Baikal, not Bali
Final sitting of spring session, Seventh Convocation of State Duma. duma.gov.ru, Wikimedia Commons.

The State Duma of the Russian Federation has banned deputies and senators from traveling abroad without permission, adopting a law that allows for the early termination of their powers if they do so. The law was passed "in the first reading and in general," according to the Russian parliament's website.

The law takes effect upon publication and requires senators and deputies to obtain approval from an internal authority before traveling outside Russia. This rule does not apply to business trips.

"We will have to justify where the person is going, but if he goes to Baikal, we will all support him; to the Volga, we will be happy. But if the islands are the Maldives or Bali, colleagues, nothing personal," said State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin. Volodin also directed the Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption to consider extending the travel ban for deputies and senators for several years after their terms end.

Vasily Piskarev, head of the Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption and a co-author of the law, said the measure was motivated by security concerns for both the state and those traveling abroad, likely in the wake of Russia's War on Ukraine.

Before the law's adoption, the Federation Council's Committee issued a warning in September 2023 to Senator Lyudmila Narusova against unauthorized trips to NATO countries. Vyacheslav Timchenko, head of the Upper House's Rules Committee, noted that Narusova traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, and Nice, France, in July 2023.

Additionally, in January 2023, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that regional authorities had recommended officials and deputies avoid foreign travel. For instance, Oleg Kuvshinnikov, governor of the Vologda Oblast, said, "In such a difficult time for the country, spending vacations at luxury resorts and publicly posting provocative photographs on social networks is unacceptable for officials." On January 11, Ulyanovsk Oblast Governor Alexey Russkikh signed a decree advising regional and municipal officials to refrain from traveling abroad during holidays amid the war in Ukraine. This came after several scandals involving regional politicians posting vacation photos from Mexico and Dubai on social media.

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