* RUSSIA * PARLIAMENT * START-2 * DUMA TO SPEED UP RATIFICATION OF START-2 MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 26, RIA NOVOSTI'S YULIA PANYUSHKINA - http://www.russia.net/ria/hotline/hp260213.htm

The State Duma committee on geopolitics is going to speed up arrangements for the ratification of the START-2 treaty as was reported today by the Committee's chairman Alexey Mitrofanov at a press-conference. He noted that the treaty is facing a controversial situation: it is the third convocation of the Russian parliament considers it and fails to pass this treaty for ratification.

To accelerate the process of decision-making, the Committee on geopolitics suggests that one of the coming Duma sessions should discuss it in detail and reveal the positions of deputy factions and experts. The very voting on the subject of ratification can be staged later, but the date should be specified beforehand, said Mitrofanov.

The chairman of the geopolitics reported the results of a survey on Duma deputies' attitude toward the treaty, held by the Committee half a year ago. It was then that out of the 103 polled deputies, a mere 7 persons declared in favour of the treaty and 52 ones, prevailingly from the LDPR and Communist parties, against it. Mitrofanov presumed that over the past time, as NATO is preparing to expand and the West is displaying a tough position on this score, deputies' opinions as regards the START-2 treaty have hardly changed.

This viewpoint is shared by Yury Nikiforenko, the deputy chairman of the committee on geopolitics, who believes that the speculation on NATO expansion has only deteriorated the attitude of most parliamentarians toward the START-2 treaty. In the opinion of Nikiforenko, the ratification of the treaty and the further attitude of Duma deputies toward it should be linked with the West's decisions on the NATO issue. "Deputies should make an actual use of the levers of influence on world politics they possess," noted Duma geopolitics committee representatives. (kol/lnv) -0-