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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: April 7, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russian Parliament Votes in Favor of Stripping Opposition Member Ilya Ponomarev of Immunity from Prosecution
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As expected, opposition deputy Ilya Ponomarev has been stripped of his parliamentary immunity, enabling Russian authorities to prosecute him on fraud charges, Novaya Gazeta reports.

Ponomarev has denied any wrongdoing in receiving fees for investment seminars that were once approved by the Russian government's innovation project, the Skolkovo Foundation. (For more details on his case, see our report yesterday.)

Dmitry Gudkov, another opposition MP said the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of removal of Ponomarev's immunity (translation by The Interpreter):

"I was the only vote against. I have the [voting] card of Ilya himself, and I pressed 'abstain' on it, that was most correct, Ilya is not offended at me. There were two others who abstained: Valery Zubov and Sergei Petrov. All the rest were 'for' as far as I could tell - 446-445."

Ponomarev himself was the only "no" vote on the proposition to annex the Ukraine last March, which has earned him endless vilification in the Russian state media and social media.

Ponomarev called the move to strip him of immunity, "yet another episode of lawlessnes, predicted and not unexpected," said Novaya Gazeta. He said the charges against him are "absurd." Originally, he had planned to return to Russia in May, but now this will depend on how the criminal case will develop.

"Now he should definitely not return to Russia, it is not worth exposing himself," said Gudkov.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick