The chairman of Russia’s ruling party, United Russia, resigned from his post as speaker of the lower house of Parliament on Wednesday, an apparent attempt to quell some of the uproar over perceived fraud in recent parliamentary elections.
The chairman, Boris V Gryzlov, is the highest ranking official in United Russia after Vladimir Putin, who serves as the party’s leader but is not a member. Intensely loyal to Putin, Gryzlov in eight years as speaker, played a key role in pacifying the Russian Parliament or Duma, which he once famously said “was no place for political battles.”
Gryzlov’s decision underscores the pressure on United Russia, which lost its constitutional majority in elections this month, officially gaining 50% of the vote.
But even that result has been called into question amid widespread accusations that the party engaged in ballot-stuffing and other fraud.
In a statement on United Russia’s Web site, Gryzlov gave no specifics about the reason for his departure. He said he would remain United Russia’s chairman, but would not take a seat in Parliament.
“Having worked in the State Duma for eight years in a row, I have been able achieve much of what was intended and much of what my colleagues and I planned to do,” he said. “And while the law imposes no restrictions, at the moment I will not be going into the State Duma, believing it inappropriate to remain the speaker of the chamber for more than two terms in a row.”
The decision came in the wake of a huge anti-Kremlin protest in Moscow last weekend, in which tens of thousands of protesters gathered. nyt