Russian Opposition Party Gives Rebel Lawmakers Ultimatum

MOSCOW, January 24 (RIA Novosti) – The opposition party A Just Russia threatened on Thursday to expel two lawmakers from its ranks unless they cut ties with political movements involved in protests against the rule of President Vladimir Putin.

One of the State Duma lawmakers, Dmitry Gudkov, is a member of the opposition Coordinating Committee, while the other, Ilya Ponomaryov, is a co-founder of the Left Front movement.

The Left Front movement is headed by Sergei Udaltsov, one of the figureheads of the anti-Putin protests.

A Just Russia also told two other members – Gennady Gudkov and Oleg Shein – to choose between the party or the Coordinating Committee. Gennady Gudkov was expelled from parliament last year over alleged illegal business activities. He said his expulsion was “revenge” for his outspoken criticism of the Kremlin.

“We will stay in the protest movement and the Coordinating Committee,” tweeted Dmitry Gudkov. “We will try to persuade party members not to make this mistake.”

But Ponomaryov said in an online post that he was “obliged to respect the party’s decision.”

He also said, however, that “no one” was trying to stop him from working with the Left Front, and that the movement also had no official membership.

Ponomaryov also advised Dmitry Gudkov to follow his example, suggesting he would be of more use “in parliament than out of it.”

A Just Russia, which has frequently been described by analysts and its critics as Potemkin political opposition with no interest in genuine confrontation with the Kremlin, also condemned the Gudkovs and Ponomaryov for their participation in a recent protest against a US adoption ban.

The January 13 demonstration culminated in protesters throwing portraits of lawmakers who voted for the controversial ban into a dumpster. Both Gudkov and Ponomaryov voted against the ban.


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