State Duma lawmaker Lebed leaves United Russia party

As the Russian parliament’s lower house is preparing for December elections, Alexei Lebed became the second State Duma lawmaker to withdraw from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party this summer.

Speaking to journalists in the Siberian city of Abakan, Lebed, a United Russia member since 2005, explained his decision to leave the party by saying: “Every person should be honest, have an active life position, have the right to express his own opinion regardless of party directives and conventionalism.”

He stressed that he was “not running from one party to another party,” but “just leaving [the party].”

The head of United Russia’s branch in the republic of Khakassiya said Lebed’s membership in the party will be cancelled in the near future.

Sergei Mozharov criticized Lebed’s work in the State Duma and his frequent absence from regional party meetings, as well as his refusal to take part in United Russia’s primaries.

Lebed was first elected as head of the Khakassiya government in 1996 and served three consecutive terms until 2009, when Viktor Zimin was appointed the new head of the republic after then-President Vladimir Putin cancelled elections of regional heads in Russia in 2004.

Lebed became a State Duma lawmaker in 2009.

Earlier this summer, State Duma deputy Igor Isakov also withdrew from United Russia. Russian daily Kommersant quoted sources close to the lawmaker as saying that he may join the Right Cause party led by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

Some media reports suggested that Lebed may join A Just Russia party, quoting its leader Sergei Mironov as saying that his party was in talks with several prominent United Russia figures on moving to A Just Russia.

Several members of A Just Russia party, including State Duma Deputy Chairman Alexander Babakov, recently cancelled their membership in A Just Russia to join Putin’s All-Russia People’s Front, a political movement that analysts say has been created to boost United Russia’s flagging popularity.

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