According to a new report by Transparency International Russia, nearly 20 percent of the State Duma (a total of 86 deputies) currently acts as lobbyists for the country’s military and law enforcement agencies — the siloviki. Some of these lawmakers, researchers say, can be tied to specific federal agencies: 26 are lobbying for the Defense Ministry, 20 for the Federal Security Service, eight for the Attorney General’s Office and Investigative Committee, seven for the Interior Ministry, and so on. Transparency International says outfits like the National Guard, Federal Protective Service, Foreign Intelligence Service, Federal Penitentiary Service, and Federal Emergency Management Agency lack their own lobbyists, but benefit generally from the actions of the State Duma’s silovik lobby.
Lobbyists are apparently multiplying in the legislature, as well, with 33 new first-term deputies joining their ranks in the most recent convocation (elected in 2016). Some of the supposed lobbyist-lawmakers Transparency International identified by name have already denied the allegations, telling the newspaper Vedomosti that the organization is spreading “hypothetical unsubstantiated claims.”
Technically speaking, lobbying doesn’t exist in Russia. The concept, at least, isn’t established anywhere in the country’s laws, and the activity itself isn’t formally regulated in any way. For years, federal officials have discussed the possibility of codifying rules for this industry, but the effort has led to bupkis. In January 2018, Meduza special correspondent Taisiya Bekbulatova dove deep into the world of Russian lobbyists and “fixers.”