Parliamentary Procedure

Russian meetings and conventions are organized after the Continental model rather than our own. The first action is usually the election of officers and the presidium.

The presidium is a presiding committee, composed of representatives of the groups and political factions represented in the assembly, in proportion to their numbers. The presidium arranges the Order of Business, and its members can be called upon by the president to take the chair pro tem.

Each question (vopros) is stated in a general way and then debated, and at the close of the debate resolutions are submitted by the different factions, and each one voted on separately. The Order of Business can be, and usually is, smashed to pieces in the first half hour. On the plea of ’emergency’, which the crowd almost always grants, anybody from the floor can get up and say anything on any subject. The crowd controls the meeting, practically the only functions of the Speaker being to keep order by ringing a little bell, and to recognize speakers. Almost all the real work of the session is done in caucuses of the different groups and political factions, which almost always cast their votes in a body and are represented by floor-leaders. The result is, however, that at every important new point, or vote, the session takes a recess to enable the different groups and political factions to hold a caucus.

The crowd is extremely noisy, cheering or heckling speakers, overriding the plans of the presidium. Among the customary cries are: ‘Prosim! Please! Go on!’ ‘Pravilno!‘ or ‘Eto vierno! That’s true! Right!’ ‘Do volno! Enough!’ ‘Doloi! Down with him!’ ‘Posor! Shame!’ and ‘Teeshe! Silence! Not so noisy!’

— Reed, J., Ten Days that Shook the World, Notes and Explanations, p. 23, Penguin Modern Classics, Reprinted 1970

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