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Another opposition politician may be excluded from a Just Russia

March 15, 2013, 11:44 UTC+3

Lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev said on Thursday that he is forming his inter-faction group under the codename Alternative

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Lawmaker from A Just Russia party Ilya Ponomarev said on Thursday that he suspends his party activity until the next congress of A Just Russia, and so far is forming his inter-faction group under the codename Alternative. He may be excluded from the party, like Gennady Gudkov and Dmitry Gudkov, experts believe.

The father and son Gudkovs on Thursday announced the plans to continue cooperation with the Coordination Council of the opposition and get down to the creation of a new opposition Social Democratic party, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily writes. Even the preliminary date of its founding congress has been named November 7, this year. Also on Thursday, MP Ilya Ponomarev publicly announced support to the disgraced members of A Just Russia. He decided to suspend his membership in the party as a sign of solidarity with them. Ponomarev spoke about the creation within the State Duma lower house of parliament of the Alternative opposition inter-faction structure, the informal leader of which will be Gennady Gudkov. “Our parliament is turning into one big ruling party, and many lawmakers, even from United Russia, do not like it,” Ponomarev told the publication. “We expect the colleagues from other parties to find the courage and strength to join us.” Ponomarev stressed that the participation in an inter-faction group meets the Duma rules of procedure for other MPs, and this will not entail quitting the party.

The statement of the parliamentarian has caused strong criticism from A Just Russia chairman Nikolai Levichev who urged Ponomarev not to hide behind “fine words” but write a notice on resignation from the party and surrender the mandate.

Neither Gudkov nor Ponomarev are going to surrender their mandates voluntarily. Legally, expulsion from the party has no consequences for Gudkov, ex-member of the State Duma, lawyer Mark Feigin is certain: “This does not entail the withdrawal from the faction or his automatic stripping of mandate. The decision on his stripping of the MP status can be made only after the relevant discussion by the commission on ethics and only on solid enough grounds.”

Ex-Duma member Gennady Gudkov joked that as he has seated Ponomarev between him and his son “now there is no escaping for him,” the Novye Izvestia newspaper writes. And really, in several minutes Ponomarev stated that he suspends his activity in A Just Russia as a sign of solidarity with his colleagues. Gudkov senior noted that their expulsion from the party was not unexpected, because he together with his son refused to break off all ties with the non-system opposition, as was demanded by the leadership of A Just Russia. However, the Gudkovs do not agree with the formal cause related to the ideological disagreement of the protest movement and A Just Russia members. They believe that the decision was made under pressure from the Kremlin. In addition, there is competition within the party. According to Gennady Gudkov, the process could have been triggered by his desire to run for the post of the Moscow Region governor in September this year.

Ponomarev’s words, according to the party rules, could be assessed as a statement on quitting the party, but to stay an honest man he also should surrender his mandate, the Vedomosti newspaper quotes Nikolai Levichev as saying. He promised to consider this issue at the next meeting of the bureau of the presidium of the Central Council of the party in two weeks.

If Ponomarev does not change his position, he, like the Gudkovs, will be expelled from the party, three members of A Just Russia believe. Ponomarev also failed to observe the party discipline, but has always behaved more cautiously than the Gudkovs, a member of the party Central Council says. According to him, (Ponomarev’s) Thursday’s statement has exhausted the patience of the party leadership. Ponomarev himself said that he does not intend to surrender his party membership card at least until the congress that will be held in autumn.

The creation of the independent group of Ponomarev-Gudkov was approved by Mikhail Prokhorov: he wrote in his microblog that his Civic Platform party hopes to use this group for promoting its bills.

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