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Fair Russia leader seeks to oust MP for opposing Crimea accession

Fair Russia leader seeks to oust MP for opposing Crimea accession
Sergey Mironov has demanded that State Duma deputy, Ilya Ponomaryov, quit his post as his behavior damaged the reputation of the Fair Russia party. The MP replied that he would fight for his seat ‘to the end.’

Mironov addressed Ponomaryov in an open letter published on social networks, in which he quoted the MP’s own recent statement opposing Crimea’s accession to the Russian Federation and calling Russia’s support of the Crimean referendum decision “a hypocritical and lowly deed.”Mironov went on to cesure Ponomaryov’s attitude to the Fair Russia party as “immoral and ignoble” and called for him to give up his parliamentary mandate.

Ilya Ponomaryov was the only Lower House member who voted against the package of bills that allowed the accession.

Mironov wrote in the letter that the public are generally unaware of the legal niceties that allow Duma deputies to remain in parliament after quitting the parties that brought them there. Technically, Ponomaryov was still a member of the Fair Russia caucus, despite recently leaving the party and this was causing reputational damage to the party, Mironov claimed.

Speaking for the whole party, I do not request, but demand – stop clinging to your seat, give up the mandate!” the letter reads.

In addition, the Fair Russia leader reminded Ponomaryov of the political legacy of his family and asked him not to tarnish his family’s name. Ponomaryov’s mother, Larisa Ponomaryova, was a long time Upper House member and his great-uncle, Boris Ponomaryov, was a top Communist Party official in the Soviet Union.

Ilya Ponomaryov was elected to the State Duma in 2007 and in 2011 on Fair Russia’s ticket, but their ways parted after Ponomaryov, along with with two other MPs, took part in mass protests against alleged violations at the 2011 parliamentary polls. Fellow parliamentarians, including Mironov, said that if Ponomaryov considered the elections to be unfair he should not occupy the seat received in the very same elections, but the MP refused to leave.

Another scandal involving Ponomaryov took place in early 2013 when a team of investigators discovered that a senior vice-president of the Skolkovo innovation hub paid the MP $750,000 to deliver 10 lectures and one research paper. The probe and subsequent court hearings proved these facts to be true. The executive in charge was suspended and the MP was ordered to return the money. Ponomaryov pleaded not guilty, saying that the fees were fair and proportional to the amount of work.

Following this second scandal, Ponomaryov announced in October 2013 that he was quitting the Fair Russia party, but would remain in the State Duma as Russian law allows this.

Ponomaryov reiterated this intention in comments to Mironov’s open letter – “This is not going to happen – I received this mandate from the voters of Novosibirsk Region and I will fight to the end for the interests of my region and my country,” the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

In early April, several deputies from the nationalist party LDPR drafted a parliamentary statement on depriving four Fair Russia MPs of their places in parliament for not supporting the bills on Crimea’s reunification with Russia (Ponomaryov voted against and the other three abstained from voting). However, the document was rejected as it contradicted the federal law on the status of State Duma deputies that only allows such moves in extraordinary cases like high-profile criminal probes against politicians.