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3 Feb, 2010 12:07

Parliament speaker could be dismissed over anti-Putin remarks

Russia’s ruling United Russia party has said they may demand the resignation of the Federation Council speaker Sergey Mironov over his criticism of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s policies.

The United Russia leadership was outraged by the remarks the speaker of the upper house made in a program shown on Channel One TV on Monday.

Mironov – previously known for being a strong supporter of Putin – in an interview with one of the country’s leading journalists, Vladimir Pozner, was asked to clarify his current position since the politician said that he did back Putin – who now leads United Russia – but did not support the party itself. So what is behind the stance?

Mironov said that even though he supports “everything in Putin’s foreign policy and certain decisions in home policy”, there are certain points he cannot agree with.

The speaker, who also heads the left-leaning party Fair Russia, said “we categorically oppose the budget proposed by Vladimir Putin; that is why we voted against it.”

“We disagree with the anti-crisis measures proposed by Vladimir Putin, and therefore we offered our own anti-crisis plan. Therefore, to say that we and I personally support Vladimir Putin in everything is obsolete information,” Mironov said as quoted on the channel’s website.

Mainly, he added, contradictions arise since Putin now heads United Russia, which is “in opposition to us” and its ideology is unacceptable because of its “doubtful conservatism”.

The ruling party’s senior members were quick to return fire. In a statement published on the party’s website Yury Shuvalov, Deputy Secretary of United Russia's Supreme Council Presidium, called Mironov’s lunge at Putin – “who is supported by the majority of Russian population” – a political mistake.

He said Mironov’s statements could “destabilize the development of the political and party system in the country”, adding that such behavior is unacceptable for a person of his position in the state hierarchy.

The party leadership seems to be decisive and ready to go from rhetoric to action.

“Taking into account the fact that [Mironov] represents the legislative assembly of St. Petersburg, where we have a majority, I believe it logical and expedient, after consulting with our colleagues from the Legislative Assembly of the northern capital, to begin the procedure of recalling [Mironov],” head of the Central Executive committee of United Russia Andrey Vorobyev said on as quoted by Itar Tass news agency.

Another senior United Russia official, Andrey Isayev, said Mironov's criticism reflected “his personal moral crisis,” RIA Novosti writes.

“I think it would be fair and right for him to resign from his post [as the Federation Council speaker], which was given to him by United Russia and nobody else,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mironov said he was surprised by such a backlash, Interfax writes.

“I have publicly voiced my disagreement with these positions – including the budget – on a number of occasions,” he told the agency. He said that he personally told Putin that Fair Russia did not support a number of anti-crisis measures proposed by United Russia.

He said he had no absolutely idea why the party leadership considered his statements to be seditious.

As for his possible dismissal, “the United Party can say whatever they want,” he retorted. Citing the current legislation, Mironov said “it is impossible”, since in order to start the procedure the Federation Council has to apply to the legislative assembly of St. Petersburg.