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Ruling party MPS continue to leave parliament

February 22, 2013, 11:41 UTC+3

Members of the United Russia faction in the State Duma lower house of parliament continue to surrender mandates

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Members of the United Russia faction in the State Duma lower house of parliament continue to surrender mandates. United Russia MP Anatoly Lomakin will surrender mandate on Friday. Apparently, there are several more candidates for resignation. Member of the opposition Alexei Navalny, who published compromising materials on Vladimir Pekhtin, says that the Levada Centre on Thursday presented data demonstrating the extremely low rating of the State Duma. Experts talk about the possibility of early elections to the Duma. The Duma early elections can help to solve many problems of the authorities, but it is fraught with unpredictable results.

Anatoly Lomakin - a billionaire and owner of the International Potash Company, is leaving the Duma quietly, trying not to attract attention to himself, as it has recently become fashionable, without explanation, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. These departures are becoming more scandalous.

According to the Director of the Levada Centre, Lev Gudkov, who was quoted by the publication, the scandals have a destructive effect on the credibility of the lower house: “In the eyes of Russians the Duma has turned into a club of corrupt officials neglecting the interests of the citizens. The current events are viewed by the electorate not as random episodes, but as a sign of the deep degradation of power.” In the view of Gudkov, the low rating of the State Duma begins to affect the rating of President Vladimir Putin who is currently supported by 65 percent of the country’s citizens, but sociologists have recorded a downward trend.

A source of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily in the State Duma said that the flight of MPs is actually just beginning. The head of the legal service of the Communist Party (CPRF), Vadim Solovyov, believes that it is a more global process, namely the “dumping” of the current ruling party, headed by its leader and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. “It should be replaced, as they say, with the centre-left Popular Front, and therefore United Russia, as the Titanic, is moving at a high speed to meet its iceberg.”

Hardly anybody doubts that the departures from the Duma are sanctioned and even encouraged by the Kremlin. In the view of expert of the Centre for Political Information Rostislav Turovsky, they are linked with the possible working out of the scenario of early dissolution of the Duma, or at least re-formatting of the lower house: “Reformatting of the United Russia faction is already taking shape. Scandals give the authorities the reason to think about either its total replacement or adjusting the membership at the personal level.”

According Turovsky, the situation may not lead to early elections: “But the possibility for this step is obviously being created. Putin may use it, if necessary. But then the degree of scandal around the Duma should be brought to the limit. I’m not sure what the Kremlin will venture to do it. After all, this may hit it as well.”

Resignation of several members of United Russia who are involved in scandals with property and business, has recently seemed inconceivable, writes the Vedomosti newspaper, but now it is already called the beginning of a new round of the elites’ rotation. Scandals in the State Duma have coincided the law enforcement officers’ hints that disgraced Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov could become a criminal case defendant. The publication does not rule out that voluntary stepping down of MPs and statements of law enforcers are part of the pre-planned replacement of the elites. According to this version, it is Putin’s great purge, during which he without the atrocities of the 1930s intends to replace the veterans who have discredited themselves by public richness with young (and hungry) nominees.

United Russia member Vladimir Pekhtin left the lower house of parliament with a loud statement - he intends to travel to the United States to bring from there evidence of his innocence, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily writes. The information about his real estate in Miami worth millions is a misunderstanding, he claims. While Pekhtin is only going to fly to the United States, the documents that prove the opposite are already arriving from there one after another.

“We have information about three MPs, one of them is not United Russia member,” Alexei Navalny told the newspaper. “We know for certain that they have foreign real estate. Lots of people continue the search, following the published instructions.”

Meanwhile, Pekhtin’s resignation has attracted the attention of foreign journalists, the newspaper reports. Journalists from The Wall Street Journal have checked the data on Pekhtin’s real estate, published by Navalny, and confirmed their authenticity. In addition to the already known data, they have found that Pekhtin and his son Alexei paid in cash for an apartment worth 1.275 million US dollars. However, in December 2012 (just after the first revelatory publication about him in the blog of A Just Russia member Dmitry Gudkov), Pekhtin Sr. sold his part of the property to his son for ... 100 US dollars.

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