Upper house ex-speaker vows to purge Fair Russia party of “traitors”

Sergey Mironov and Boris Gryzlov (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klementiev)
Chairman of the ruling party’s supreme council Boris Gryzlov says a replacement for the ex-speaker of the Federation Council will be chosen from amongst “very interesting” candidates.

Former chairman Sergey Mironov was recalled from the upper house by deputies of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly on May 18. The initiative of the ruling party’s faction was supported by deputies from the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party. Several local legislators from Mironov’s Fair Russia party also supported the move.

United Russia said the former speaker had not defended the city’s interests properly and ignored the initiatives of the local legislative body. Following the vote in St. Petersburg, Mironov lost his post as the Federation Council speaker. He is now expected to take the seat of a deputy in the State Duma, the lower house.

Gryzlov, speaker of the State Duma, says his party will not be in a hurry to find a replacement for Mironov’s place in the upper house. Currently, his deputy Aleksandr Torshin is the acting speaker.

The ruling party will have to consider several candidates, Gryzlov told reporters on Monday. “Maybe there will be a very interesting candidacy there,” he noted. But he does not rule out that whoever is appointed as a deputy from St. Petersburg will take the speaker’s seat.

According to the legislation, members of the Federation Council are appointed by local legislative bodies and are chosen from deputies of these bodies or municipal organs. In St. Petersburg, there are about one and a half thousand such people, Gryzlov said.

Mironov, who is visiting St. Petersburg, said there would be “no traitors” on the party’s list during elections to the State Duma in December. Special attention will be paid to the moral side of party life, he explained.

On the eve of the vote for Mironov’s recall, his faction in the St. Petersburg Assembly split. The new leader of the faction, Vladimir Golman, said it would support the rival United Party’s initiative to remove Mironov.

Golman and his followers were later expelled from Fair Russia for their stance. According to the head of the party’s St. Petersburg branch Oksana Dmitrieva, deputies Golman and Anatoly Kosterev were excluded, in fact, for their “betrayal.”    

Meanwhile, Mironov on Monday ratcheted up his attack against St. Petersburg governor Valentina Matvienko, who enjoys United Russia’s support. “The main thing is that she should not head our city,” Mironov said, speaking at a meeting of the party’s branch. According to the politician, she “long ago lost the moral right to manage the city.” Earlier, he had called St. Petersburg “the most corrupt city” – another reason explaining United Russia’s decision to recall him.

Mironov recently quit the post as Fair Russia’s chairman, but remains its informal leader. To fulfill the task of replacing the governor, the party should win the elections to the Legislative Assembly in December, he said. Then it will be able to nominate their candidacies for governor who are later submitted to the president for approval.  

Fair Russia will also ask the Russian leadership to dismiss Minister of Education and Science Andrey Fursenko, Mironov announced. According to the ex-speaker, the current ministry is “destroying universal, free and affordable education” in Russia. The party wants to divide the ministry into two bodies, one responsible for education and the other science. Fair Russia will also fight against the new law on education.