Putin's poodles in the doghouse for failing to turn up They are often dismissed as Vladimir Putin's political poodles, but now deputies in the Russian parliament apparently cannot even muster the will to turn up to do as they are told. When they voted 449-0 to pass a tough new drink-driving law it seemed like just another rubber-stamp decision from a Duma renowned for its slavish obedience to Mr Putin, the Prime Minister. That was until a television report disclosed that only 88 members had actually voted. Deputies were shown scurrying around rows of empty seats in the chamber, pressing the voting buttons of absent MPs during the 20 seconds allowed for voting. "One physically fit deputy has time to press nine buttons," Ren TV reported sardonically, as an MP was shown rushing from desk to desk. The video, now an internet hit with Russians, provoked anger in Mr Putin's ruling United Russia party, which holds two thirds of the seats in the 450-member Duma. Sergei Neverov, a senior party official, said "truant" deputies should be kicked out. The TV film also drew a sarcastic reaction in Russian newspapers, with Komsomolskaya Pravda commenting: "We suspected that our people's deputies do not sit around in the State Duma all day long, but come on, 88 out of 450 is too much." President Medvedev suggested that this might actually have been a good day in the Duma. He threatened last month to have absent deputies expelled. "I am amazed myself by the picture in the parliament when <b>...</b>
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