The State Duma of the seventh session was elected in September 2016, and in a few months the deputies’ mandates will expire. At the end of June, Vladimir Putin appreciated the work of the State Duma for five years and said that the deputies "worked at a high level", showed "professionalism and responsibility". Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin also praised the performance of members of the lower house of the Russian parliament: "From October 2016 to the present day, 5,500 bills have been introduced to the State Duma. 4,485 bills, which are 81.5 %, were considered. This is the efficiency factor of the State Duma," Volodin said.

IStories and Znak.com decided to check how effectively the deputies have worked out the session. We found out that 22 parliamentarians had never spoken at the State Duma meetings for five years. Most of them are members of the United Russia party. This term is not first for some “dumb”. However, in the previous session they were not initiative either. Thus, their term of silence exceeds 10 years. Moreover, 5 parliamentarians of the seventh session have introduced not a single bill. All the time, despite their silence or legislative inactivity, the deputies have received a high salary, which is about 470 thousand rubles. Moreover, they have privileges and immunity. Some of the "dumb" are going to participate in the elections to the State Duma in September this year, and the absence of speeches and legislative initiatives does not embarrass them.

“Dumb”, Duma’s deputies who say nothing for five years

For their duty period in the lower house of the Russian parliament of the current session 22 deputies have said not a single word either from the Duma’s rostrum, or from their own place. Their names and party membership are represented below. The overwhelming majority of “dumb” deputies are members of the United Russia.

Deputies Anatoly Bifov, Alexander Bryksin, Boris Ivanyuzhenkov and Vladimir Resin have been silent in the State Duma for 10 years - they all have been present in parliament since 2011. But even their silence is not record-breaking. Irek Boguslavsky, Adam Delimkhanov and Oleg Kolesnikov (all from the United Russia) have served as the State Duma deputies since 2007, but for all these 14 years they have not said a word at meetings.

In the conversation with Znak.com, the United Russia member Oleg Kolesnikov said that he did not know why the State Duma stenograph did not record any of his speeches. “I don’t know how it happened. I have spoken from my seat many times. You have some wrong information, ”Kolesnikov assured. We double-checked the deputy’s words, but did not find his speeches on the website of the lower house of the Russian parliament. The press service of the communist Anatoly Bifov said to Znak.com that the lack of public speeches of the deputy cannot be regarded as disinterest in the work of the parliament. “The emphasis in the work of Anatoly Zhamalovich was on other things: we devoted more time to work in the region, with citizens and voters, as well as to work in the Duma committees. If you determine the efficiency of the deputy, everything will be clear”, the parliamentarian's press service said. Bifov's spokesman also added that the communists' party decides who to speak and answer at meetings. The other “dumb” deputies prefer not to answer to journalists' inquiries.

Kept silence, but promised to return

Many deputies who have kept silence for years are going to reelect to the parliament in September. For instance, the United Russia again runned Rakhim Azimov who has been speechless in the State Duma for 10 years for the elections in the lower house of the parliament from Kirov Oblast, while Adam Delimkhanov who has not breathed a word for 14 years is a candidate for the elections from the Chechen Republic.

According to the calculations of Znak.com and IStories, the State Duma deputies have spoken out 46 times during their office terms on average. (For the calculation, we used the median - the value that is exactly in the middle in a set of numbers sorted in descending or ascending order. — Ed. note) But there are long-staying deputies in the Russian parliament who have spoken at the State Duma meetings several thousand times. For example, Nikolai Kolomoitsev (the first deputy chairman of the Communist Party) made more than five thousand speeches, and Vladimir Zhirinovsky (LDPR) took the floor more than four thousand times.

“Inactive”, deputies who have not introduced a bill

At the same time, some deputies did not only speak at meetings of the State Duma, but also they did not take legislative initiative. For example, Vladimir Resin has introduced only three bills over the past five years. But the most unproductive deputy among the "dumb" was Chechen deputy Adam Delimkhanov. During his work in the State Duma of the seventh convocation, he co-authored only one bill, which dealt with "countermeasures against unfriendly actions of the United States and other countries." The law was passed in 2018. Delimkhanov was no longer engaged in legislation.

Adam Delimkhanov (at the center) co-authored only one bill during his work in the State Duma of the seventh session
Adam Delimkhanov (at the center) co-authored only one bill during his work in the State Duma of the seventh session
Photo: Dmitry Dukhanin / Kommersant

Still, there are deputies in the State Duma of the seventh session who have not become authors or co-authors of any law. These are Gavril Parakhin from the Liberal Democratic Party, as well as Olga Pilipenko, Alexey Zolotarev, Andrey Kovalenko and Alexey Lisovenko - all from the United Russia. However, they all began to work in the State Duma not in 2016, but several years later.

On average (in this case, we also took the median value. Ed. note), the deputies introduced 55 bills during their term of office. But there are those who have introduced less than five bills for five years. Five deputies work in such relaxed mode. Leonid Slutsky from the Liberal Democratic Party has introduced only two bills, the both bills were adopted. Vladimir Drachev introduced four bills, two bills were adopted. Dmitry Islamov has sent three bills to the floor, two of them were adopted. Svetlana Solntseva became a co-author of four draft laws, two of which were adopted. Sergei Chepikov tabled three bills, all of them were adopted. All the deputies are from the United Russia.

Sergei Chepikov, a famous former biathlete, has spoken out only one time during his five years of work in the State Duma. It was in 2017. Since then, Chepikov has been silent in the Duma. Such low performance did not prevent the deputies from going to the polls again. The United Russia nominated Dmitry Islamov from Kemerovo Oblast, Sergei Chepikov from Ekaterinburg Oblast, Olga Pilipenko from Orlov Oblast, and Andrey Kovalenko from Yaroslavl Oblast.

According to our calculations, the leaders in the number of bills were members of the party “A Just Russia” Sergei Mironov (666 bills) and Mikhail Emelyanov (582 bills), as well as LDPR deputy Igor Lebedev (552 bills).

State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin does not believe that the effectiveness of a deputy can be assessed only by his or her speeches and the number of introduced bills. “The best is when a deputy combines both active work in their region and legislative activity. However, only the voter who determines what is his priority will give the assessment of the work of the deputies, ”Volodin said.

Editors: Roman Anin, Maria Plyusnina