Fine Upheld for Russian Protest Leader Over Skolkovo

MOSCOW, November 23 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow City Court threw out an appeal Friday by a co-organizer of recent anti-Kremlin protests who was ordered to pay 2.7 million rubles ($82,000) to the Skolkovo business hub.

Skolkovo sued Ilya Ponomaryov, a lawmaker in the State Duma – Russia’s lower house of parliament – in April over a series of lectures he was contracted to give for the hub.

The Kremlin-backed Skolkovo – which aspires to be Russia’s Silicon Valley – claimed the lawmaker had botched or possibly skipped most of the lectures, for which he was paid a total of 9 million rubles ($273,000).

The lawmaker denied the allegations, claiming his work for Skolkovo resulted in legislative amendments and analytical studies and attracted 850 residents to the hub.

Ponomaryov, an IT expert, said on his blog that he would appeal Friday’s ruling in the Supreme Court.

The 38-year-old legislator played a prominent role in the street protests of 2011-2012 in Moscow, the biggest opposition protests in Russia in two decades.

He claimed earlier the Skolkovo case was retribution for his opposition activity.

Russia’s Investigative Committee – subordinated directly to the Kremlin – earlier opened a criminal case against the Skolkovo vice president who signed the contract with Ponomaryov.

The committee named Ponomaryov a possible suspect in the case and said it wants him stripped of the immunity he is afforded by his Duma deputy status.

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