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5 Feb, 2024 13:10

Ex-Russian MP accused of treason

The Federal Security Service has opened criminal cases against Ilya Ponomarev, claiming he has switched to the enemy’s side
Ex-Russian MP accused of treason

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) announced on Sunday that it has officially opened several criminal cases against former State Duma Deputy Ilya Ponomarev, accusing him of terrorism, treason and activities aimed at undermining the security of the country.

Ponomarev had served as a representative of the left-wing ‘A Just Russia’ party in the country’s lower chamber of parliament since 2007. In 2014 he fled to Ukraine after being sued for embezzlement and has since openly opposed the Russian government. In 2015 he was deprived of parliamentary immunity while Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against him, accusing him of stealing 22 million rubles ($241,000) from the Skolkovo research center, and placed him on the federal wanted list.

Since moving to Kiev and receiving Ukrainian citizenship in 2019, Ponomarev has repeatedly threatened to launch a terror campaign targeting Russian officials and anyone deemed to be supportive of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

The former deputy has also made numerous calls on Russian citizens to commit high treason, the FSB said, and to join Kiev’s forces or to violently seize power in the country by using force to overthrow Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government.

Furthermore, Ponomarev has been accused of being directly involved in the activities of the Ukrainian paramilitary association the ‘Russian Freedom Legion,’ which is officially recognized as a terrorist organization by Russia’s Supreme Court. 

“Members of this organization, in addition to conducting military operations against Russia on the side of the Ukrainian armed forces, recruit Russian citizens through Internet resources to commit extremist and terrorist crimes on the territory of our country,” the FSB pointed out.

Following the high-profile assassination of Russian journalist and public figure Darya Dugina in Moscow in August 2022, Ponomarev also claimed to have been working with a guerilla group supposedly operating in Russia, which, he said, was responsible for carrying out the attack.

The FSB said it has opened four criminal cases against the former deputy, accusing him of ‘state treason in the form of switching to the enemy’s side,’ of ‘participating in a terrorist organization,’ of ‘publicly calling to commit terrorist activities’ and of ‘publicly calling to commit actions aimed against the security of the Russian Federation. It’s noted that all the cases are being worked on simultaneously while the FSB conducts investigations into the actions of Ponomarev and his accomplices within Russia.

“Accomplices of the Kyiv regime will be brought to the strictest responsibility,” the FSB vowed.

Born in Moscow in 1975, Ponomarev began his career working in the energy sector and developed ties with Yukos Oil Company. In the early 2000s he worked in IT and became a member of the Communist Party. In 2007 he moved to the left-wing ‘A Just Russia’ party, where he was elected to represent the faction in the State Duma. During his political career Ponomarev had founded and participated in a number of opposition movements and initiatives, and in 2014 was the only State Duma member to vote against Crimea joining Russia.