Russian opposition MP expelled from parliament

September 14th, 2012 - 6:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Sep 14 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian opposition lawmaker Gennady Gudkov was Friday ousted from the lower house of parliament for engaging in commercial activity while serving as an MP.

The MP said the charges were “payback” for his involvement in anti-Kremlin protests.

“I will leave, but will return to help build a new Russia that our children and grandchildren can be proud of,” an emotional Gudkov told fellow lawmakers. “And this will be soon - very soon.”

The 56-year-old MP’s expulsion after a stormy Duma session came ahead of a mass rally set for Moscow Saturday against the 12-year rule of President Vladimir Putin.

Gudkov’s 32-year-old son Dmitry is also a Duma lawmaker with the A Just Russia party.

Gudkov, a former KGB colonel, was accused of engaging in commercial activity while serving as a lawmaker, which is forbidden under Russian law.

The vote was called after investigators asked for his expulsion so that they could charge him with fraudulent business dealings in a case that could also land him in jail. Duma members receive immunity from prosecution.

United Russia’s parliamentary faction and lawmakers from the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party voted for Gudkov’s expulsion. It was approved by 291 members of parliament, almost 70 more than the minimum required.

Gudkov said he would appeal to Russia’s Supreme Court.

Dmitry Gudkov called his father’s ouster “parliamentary cannibalism” in a Twitter post. “This is an indication of a parliamentary crisis.”

The case is almost without precedent. Gudkov, who has been an MP since 2001, would become only the second lawmaker in post-Soviet Russia to be removed from parliament without a court ruling.

The only previous legislator to be ejected after a simple Duma vote was Sergei Mavrodi, head of the 1990s MMM pyramid scheme, which cost millions of Russians their life savings.

Gudkov denied the accusations against him and said they were the Kremlin’s revenge for his involvement in the mass opposition protests that broke out after last December’s disputed parliamentary polls.

“This is pure payback for my opposition activities,” he told RIA Novosti.

Leading United Russia official Andrei Isaev told parliament that Gudkov’s expulsion would prove that everyone in Russia was equal before the law.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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