Former Federation Council speaker takes State Duma deputy’s seat

Sergey Mironov (RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev)
State Duma deputy Yelena Vtorygina has reportedly offered her seat to Sergey Mironov, who was recalled from the upper house by St. Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly.

­All the formalities concerning the handover of the mandate have been completed, deputy head of the Fair Russia party faction in the State Duma, Oksana Dmitrieva, told reporters. The final decision is to be made by the Central Elections Commission and the lower house.

During the parliamentary elections in 2007, Mironov headed Fair Russia’s party list, which gives him the right to take the seat of a party deputy if he wishes. After those elections, he kept the post as speaker of the upper house. Following his recall last week, several deputies of Mironov’s party said they were ready to offer him one of their seats.

Four other candidates from the Arkhangelsk regional group that put forward candidates in the 2007 Duma elections had to refuse Vtorygina’s mandate in favor of Mironov’s.

On Wednesday, he delivered his farewell address to members of the upper house, summing up the results of ten years of his work as speaker. Mironov expressed hope that the Federation Council would remain as the voice of the regions and their interests. He also considers one of his most important achievements keeping the upper house a non-party entity.

“Political struggle will be waged in a State Duma which has factions, Mironov said. But United Russia will now try to further splinter minority political parties to ensure “its monopoly” in the upper house as well, he contended. The politician promised to fight for a real multi-party system as a deputy in the Duma. In the lower house, he may head one faction of his party or become a deputy speaker. According to Mironov, the Fair Russia will try to get at least 15 percent of the vote in the next parliamentary elections.  

­United Russia’s rival

A week ago, Mironov was recalled from the upper house by deputies of the Legislative Assembly in St. Petersburg, who had earlier appointed him to the position. This move, initiated by the faction of the ruling United Russia party, led to his losing his chair as the Federation Council speaker.

The decision to recall Mironov was supported by United Russia’s leadership, as well as by two other parties represented in the State Duma – the Communists and Liberal Democrats. Formally, United Russia deputies accused Mironov of failing to represent the interests of St. Petersburg properly and “discrediting” the city by calling it “the most corrupt city in Russia.” They also complained that the speaker had breached inter-party agreements, as well as publicly criticized the city’s governor, Valentina Matvienko.

Mironov said the ruling party launched a political attack against him on the eve of the parliamentary elections. Analysts believe both United Russia and Fair Russia are fighting for the same electorate. The former speaker recently left the post of A Just Russia’s chairman, but remains its informal leader and is ready to head the party’s list in the Duma elections due in December.

 Mironov’s former deputy in the upper house, Aleksandr Torshin, has now become the acting Federation Council speaker. He remains one of the strongest candidates for the chairman’s seat. However, United Russia is considering other candidates as well for what is viewed as the third most important position in the state hierarchy.

The candidate for the upper house speaker will likely “determined by the president and the prime minister,” Mironov said. But members of the independent body, the Federation Council, will decide themselves, which candidate to support, he stressed.

Mironov also denied allegations that Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin had “turned their backs” on him. “I’ve consciously chosen the way I’m going now,” he said.