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Former lawmaker to sue Opposition blogger Alexei Navalny

April 26, 2013, 13:46 UTC+3
The information that Pekhtin, who earlier led the lawmakers' ethics commission, has expensive property in the US was disseminated by blogger in February
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MOSCOW, April 26 (Itar-Tass) – Former lawmaker from the United Russia faction Vladimir Pekhtin said he will sue Opposition blogger Alexei Navalny over the allegations that Pekhtin has undeclared property and that the compensation he demands would amount to Navalny's annual income.

"I'll file a legal action. I must do it; I have no other choice. These proceedings are ahead," Pekhtin told a news conference on Friday.

"They've slandered me. I wish to defend the moral side of the matter," the former lawmaker said.

He added that if he won the case he would send the money to Magadan: "there are several dozen children's homes there; let the children use this money."

The information that Pekhtin, 52, who earlier led the lawmakers' ethics commission under the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament, has expensive property in the United States was disseminated by bloggers, in particular by Alexei Navalny, in February.

On February 13, the parliamentarian asked house speaker Sergei Naryshkin to instruct the commission which checks the lawmakers'' incomes declarations to look into veracity of the mass media reports.

"If necessary, I'm ready to provide all the necessary document upon the commission's request," he assured.

Pekhtin also said he had asked Naryshkin to suspend his powers as chairman of the house commission on ethics until completion of the check.

He denied the bloggers' information. "I never had property in the USA," he stated explaining that the property mentioned by the mass media belonged to his son Alexei. "He went to study in the USA in 1998 before I became a lawmaker, and was given the opportunity to work there, and now has property," Pekhtin said.

"I reserve the right to take the matter to court over dissemination of false information which undermines my reputation, once the check is completed," Pekhtin said.

On February 20, Pekhtin stunned his colleagues by announcing he was stepping down. At the same time, he continued to insist on his innocence. He said the campaign against him pursued a larger goal: to discredit the authorities and the parliament.

"As an honest person, I do not want to put up with it, so that our party is not overshadowed by unjustified accusations. Imagine: all this time, the Party, the faction and my relatives and friends will be under attacks," Pekhtin stressed, "I've made the decision that I won't give them the opportunity to use my name even for the slightest discreditation of the positive processes taking place in government. I've made a very difficult decision to resign the post of State Duma deputy."

Pekhtin said he had to settle the misunderstanding related to the alleged U.S. property: "There are very questionable documents published on the Internet, and there are obvious legal misunderstandings which have to be clarified. It requires much time; perhaps, it will take more than a month's work with lawyers, the most difficult thing being the work with foreign lawyers who don't like us very much."

Leader of the United Russia faction Vladimir Vasilyev said "Pekhtin has been rebuked for having undeclared property abroad," and he claims this is not the case and that the property belongs to his son, and that due to the specifics of U.S. law, the son designated him as a possible legal successor for case of emergency."

In this connection, Pekhtin intends to travel to the USA to settle the issues. "He /Pekhtin/ will prove with the available legal instruments that he owns no property in the USA," Vasilyev said.

Pekhtin's powers were terminated from March 29, and on April 4, the dedicated house commission closed the issue of his income declaration check due to his resignation.

At present, Vladimir Pekhtin is on RusHydro's board.

On Friday, faction leader Vladimir Vasilyev said his former colleague Vladimir Pekhtin would settle the issue of his foreign property and that there were no reasons to accuse him of law-breaking. Furthermore, Vasilyev said Pekhtin would be able to return to the State Duma.

"If he /Pekhtin/ so wishes, he'll return and the faction will welcome him back," Vasilyev told a news conference on Friday.

First deputy chairwoman of the house committee for family Olga Batalina confirmed that the lawmaker would be able to come back. "The law allows it," she underlined.

"Vladimir Alexeyevich /Pekhtin/ remains on United Russia's election list; if he wishes to continue to work in parliament, he'll always have this opportunity," Secretary of United Russia's General Council, deputy house speaker Sergei Neverov said.

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