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‘House of Fools’ remark sparks row between top Russian officials

The speaker of the State Duma has taken issue with Russia’s top investigator for allegedly slighting the legislature

Vyacheslav Volodin, the chair of the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, has accused a fellow senior official of insulting voters by jokingly calling the legislature a “House of Fools.”

The strong reaction followed remarks by Aleksandr Bastrykin, who heads the Investigative Committee of Russia. During a debate about migration controls at the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum on Thursday, Bastrykin, a strong proponent of tougher controls, complained that MPs were slow in implementing expected reforms.

”I’d really want to know when our State Dura – sorry about that – approves good laws,” he said.

”Dura” means “foolish woman” in Russian and resembles the word “Duma”, the name commonly used for the lower house of the national legislature.

Volodin took offense at the supposed slip and told journalists that Bastrykin had offended all Russian citizens who elect MPs to the chamber to represent their interests.

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The “House of Fools” joke isn’t new; it was introduced into Russian political slang by journalist Vladimir Pozner in 2013. Speaking at a television show he hosted, the political commentator called the lower chamber that way, before quickly correcting himself, as he was criticizing a proposed law that would affect the press and him personally.

While some people took the apparent slip of tongue as intentional, Pozner insisted it was a mistake and apologized in a later episode.

June 27, 2024 at 07:28PM

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