MOSCOW, March 15 (RIA Novosti) – Deputies from the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, accused their opposition-supporting colleague Dmitry Gudkov on Friday of supporting the United States against Russia, and have appealed to the ethics commission to investigate his conduct.
The deputies claim Gudkov, one of few dissenting voices left in the State Duma, gave a speech at a Freedom House human rights NGO forum in the United States earlier this month in which he called on the US to interfere in Russia's internal affairs.
“Together with our colleagues […] we appealed to the ethics commission of the State Duma over remarks and calls for interference by the American authorities into Russia’s domestic affairs, voiced by deputy Dmitry Gudkov...during an anti-Russian forum,” Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak, a member of the ruling United Russia party, told reporters on Friday.
Zheleznyak noted that Gudkov read his report in English, not Russian, giving rise to suspicion it had been prepared by native speakers, as the text was written in fluent English. Zheleznyak said he doubted Gudkov could have written it himself, given that he apologized for his poor mastery of English before reading the report.
“We consider his access to secret material and active cooperation with representatives of the United States government could lead to damage to the national security interests of the Russian Federation," Zheleznyak said, claiming Gudkov had published online a copy of a letter from the Federal Security Service (FSB) marked as "for official use."
The letter, which Gudkov published in his LiveJournal blog on Tuesday, was a reply to his earlier inquiry to the FSB about a claim by United Russia's deputy Yevgeny Fyodorov that many Russian state officials were foreign spies. The FSB said in its reply to Gudkov that it would not look into Fyodorov's claim.
Dmitry Gudkov and his father Gennady Gudkov have been under fire over their opposition activity recently, and were kicked out of the A Just Russia party this week.
The formal reason for their expulsion was their refusal to quit the opposition’s Coordination Council, an unofficial group aiming to represent Russia’s heterogeneous anti-Kremlin movement, which comprises disparate forces from nationalists to far left groups.
“It’s an attempt to take away my seat, many are dreaming of this,” Gudkov Jr. told RIA Novosti. His father, a former officer in the Soviet security agency, the KGB, was stripped of his Duma seat last year following an investigation he claimed was politically motivated. No charges have yet been brought against him.
A Just Russia’s leader Sergei Mironov said on Friday he was not aware of the deputies' appeal to the ethics commission against Dmitry Gudkov.
Zheleznyak said the appeal was backed by representatives of other Duma parties, including Igor Lebedev of the nationalist LDPR, Oleg Denisenko of the Communist Party and Svetlana Goryacheva of A Just Russia.
The ethics commission will consider the investigation appeal on March 20. The commission will not itself have the authority to strip Gudkov of his seat, but it could call for a vote in the Duma to authorize this.
The Freedom House conference was also attended by Moscow Helsinki Group head Lyudmila Alexeyeva and opposition politician Mikhail Kasyanov, a former prime minister and critic of President Vladimir Putin.
Earlier this week, Georgy Fedotov, a member of Russia's Public Chamber, accused Gudkov of using state funds for his trip to the United States, but he rejected the accusation and claimed he used his own money to pay for the journey.
(Updates earlier version of the story with background)
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