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Published in Stream:
Russia This Week: September 1-7
Press by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Persecuted Russian Parliamentarian Ponomarev Decides to Remain Abroad
7 years
Russian Soldier 'Fighting as Insurgent' Killed in Ukraine: Kyiv Post
Cell Phone Messages of Moscow Municipal Candidate Leaked to State Media

Russian parliamentarian Ilya Ponomayev has decided to remain abroad and not return to Russia without guarantee that he will be allowed to travel again, RBC.ru reported.

Ponomarev, a deputy of the State Duma from the Just Russia party, is the sole member of the Russian parliament to have voted against the forcible annexation of Crimea, which has unleashed a flood of hate against him in the state-run media.

In an interview with RBC.ru, Ponomarev said he did not intend to emigrate and would continue to work as a deputy. He is currently in California and plans to travel to China and Malaysia.

The Federal Service of Court Bailiffs (FSCB) issued a decision to ban him from travel abroad in July.

Ponomarev says he has been attempting to get in touch with the FSCB. Back in July, he was assured that no restrictions would be placed on him in connection with a fine from a court case related to Skolkovo, a project started under President Dmitry Medvedev to encourage technical innovation but which began to experience political and legal troubles after Putin replaced him as president.

Ponomarev was charged with receiving lecture fees amounting to $750,000 but failing to perform all the lectures, and was ordered to return the fees. He appealed the decision, which was widely viewed as politically motivated, as authorities claimed Skolkovo was "funding the opposition" in this way. In July, the Supreme Court upheld the fine. 

Meanwhile, Aleksandr Ageyev, the head of Just Russia, told RBC.ru the party would demand that Ponomarev give up his seat, and he had already been informally expelled from the faction.  Ponomarev had already announced he was leaving the part in October 2013, citing a change in the line as conservatives rejected a past opposition platform. Earlier, an attempt had been made to expel Ponomarev when he joined the opposition's Coordinating Council.

On 1 September, a fake account issued a claim on Twitter that "Ponomarev's body was found in the woods." The tweet was subsequently deleted but not before some panic was spread.

Ponomarev-death-threat.jpg

The tweet was made by @Vlad_Ryzhkov which is an imposter account of Vladimir Ryzhkov, co-chair of the opposition party RPR-Parnas. The real Ryzhkov's Twitter handle is @respublicanex.

Ryzhkov, who published a notice in gazeta.ru explaining that the account was not his, and that reports that he was beaten were not true. "About once a month he writes that someone has been beaten, murdered, blown up, etc. On Shenderovich's birthday, he wrote that he was beaten."

The fake Ryzhkov also tweeted that there was a connection between Ponomarev's statements about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the court action.


Translation: Ilya Ponomarev told CNN that the RF had brought forces into Ukraine back on 15 August. That evening Ilya got a summons to the Investigative Committee.

But Ponomarev was already under investigation before that. His speech about the Russian invasion was widely denounced on pro-Kremlin and state media sites, and he was called a "traitor."



On 29 August, an article appeared in Quarz magazine titled "An opposition Russian deputy has an idea to weaken Moscow’s influence in Europe":

Now, with Russian forces on the march in eastern Ukraine, Ponomarev is offering up his influence to help counterbalance Moscow’s chief leverage in Europe, which is its dominance of the continent’s natural gas supply.

Ponomarev tells Quartz that, to temper Russian influence, Europe needs to develop its shale gas reserves, as the US has—and that he can help by diminishing European political opposition to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the drilling method used to extract gas from shale.

Anti-fracking protests have broken out in Bulgaria, France, Poland, Romania, the UK and elsewhere, leading to bans on the practice in Bulgaria and France.

Critics, including Ponomarev, say that Russia is financing some of the protests. And he was in Washington this week to offer his paid lobbying services to Western energy companies that either are or hope to begin fracking in Europe.

This is sure to make him further enemies in Russia and among liberals and environmental activists in the West.