MOCOW, April 7 /TASS/. Russian State Duma Deputy Ilya Ponomaryov who earlier on Tuesday lost his parliamentary immunity told TASS that he was not planning to become a political emigrant.
On Tuesday, the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) voted almost unanimously (438 votes to 1) for stripping Ponomaryov of his parliamentary immunity and agreed to give consent to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office request to initiative criminal proceedings against the deputy.
"I am not going to become a political emigrant or ask for political asylums," Ponomaryov who has been staying outside Russia for a long time said adding that his further actions would depend on how the criminal case was going to unfold.
According to Ponomaryov, the decision to deprive him of parliamentary immunity was not surprising. "The decision was expected, so to speak. It did not come as a surprise," the deputy said. Ponomaryov was perplexed by what the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office said about payments for his lectures.
"The remarks of Mr. Buksman [First Deputy Chief Prosecutor] that I did not ready lectures [at Skolkovo Foundation] sound more than interesting especially in view of the fact that there is a court ruling, which says that the lectures were read. It seems that the comrades are unable to sort things out among themselves," Ponomaryov noted.
The Russian Investigation Committee believes that Ilya Ponomaryov took the most active part in misappropriating 22 million roubles ($399, 630) worth of budget funds allocated to the Skolkovo Foundation, the main agency responsible for the Russian Skolkovo Innovation Center, with which Ponomaryov had concluded contracts for carrying out scientific research and reading lectures.
Ponomaryov is formally a member of "A Just Russia" party’s parliamentary faction whose leadership had demanded he hand over his mandate many times.
Russia’s First Deputy Chief Prosecutor Alexander Buksman said in his speech at a State Duma meeting earlier on Tuesday that Ponomaryov’s case was far from being isolated.
"We have sent other materials on the Skolkovo Foundation case to prosecutors who are going to initiate criminal proceedings against the foundation’s management for distributing grants to their pocket structures," Buksman told the deputies.