MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) – Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, said on Wednesday that several current Federation Council members are ready to resign if a bill banning officials and members of parliament from holding accounts in foreign banks is passed.
“Some Federation Council members have already resigned, while several others are considering this possibility,” she told journalists.
The bill was passed in the first reading by the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, on February 22. It must pass two more readings in the Duma, be approved by the Federation Council and signed by the president to become law.
The speaker said she is currently meeting with council members who might be affected by the ban.
According to Matviyenko, if the bill is passed, those affected “will have three months to choose: legislative work or business.”
Earlier in the day, the chamber dismissed members Vitaly Malkin, Boris Shpigel and Svetlana Zhurova.
Malkin, representing the Siberian republic of Buryatia, held a Federation Council seat since 2004 and was listed as the council’s wealthiest member in 2011 with a declared income of about $32.7 million. The legislator tendered his resignation following blogger Alexei Navalny’s report that he holds dual Russian-Israeli citizenship and has undeclared real estate abroad, which is forbidden under Russian law.
Malkin dismissed all accusations, saying outside powers were running a “smear campaign” against him and that he was forced to resign to protect the chamber’s image.
Zhurova, a 2006 Olympic gold medalist and two-time speed skating world champion, had to resign after receiving a seat in the lower chamber, the State Duma.
Shpigel, whose term was to expire in May 2015, resigned after being elected chairman of a Strasbourg-registered international human rights organization, World Without Nazism. Under the Russian law, a Federation Council member is barred from combining legislative powers with membership in an international organization.