Nationalist lawmaker wants to oust Duma colleagues with unpaid debts

© Vladimir Fedorenko
The head of the nationalist Motherland party has drafted a bill that would deprive lawmakers of parliamentary seats if they have over $23,000 in debts and forbid such people to run in future elections.

MP Aleksey Zhuravlev said in comments with Izvestia daily that moral and ethical standards of Russian parliamentarians were in decline and suggested the ban on debt-ridden people would help to improve the situation. He emphasized the restrictions would apply not only to people with large personal debts, but also to politicians who act as guarantors for multi-billion credits to businesses.

The explanatory note attached to the draft reads that deliberately evading debt repayment not only inflicts damage on creditors, but also proves the debtor is a dishonest person, with possible inclination to fraud and generally adds up to a negative image of such a person.

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Credits calculated in billions are never received simply. If a person stands as a guarantor and cannot repay the multi-billion credit, such irresponsible and not serious persons should not sit in the State Duma,” Zhuravlev said. He added that the suggested amendments are very similar to the current norm, according to which a person who tries to conceal their criminal record should be stripped of parliamentary privilege.

The sponsor of the fresh bill also told reporters that some people in the current State Duma had multi-billion unpaid debts, but did not divulge names.
Zhuravlyov also explained that the suggested changes would not affect Lower House MPs, but noted that if the bill were passed before the 2016 parliamentary polls, this would prevent some of them from being reelected.

Aleksey Zhuravlev sits in the lower house on the ticket of the parliamentary majority United Russia party, but heads the nationalist Motherland party. This happened because the Motherland party was re-registered under new rules after the 2011 parliamentary elections. Russian law doesn’t demand that MPs from certain parliamentary factions and blocs remain members of corresponding political parties.

Earlier initiatives of the Motherland party chief included a suggestion to ban issuing work permits to foreigners who attack Russia in social networks, and a bill that ordered special markings on all ads from companies that collaborated with the Nazis during WWII.

He also gained notoriety after starting a brawl in the State Duma building in 2013. The confrontation emerged between Zhuravlyov and Adam Delimkhanov, United Russia MP from Chechnya, after a heated argument over a monument to a 19th century war in the Caucasus.

READ MORE: Russian MPs brawl over monument to 19th-century Chechen conflict