NOVOSIBIRSK, November 1 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian opposition lawmaker under investigation for allegedly being overpaid for work at a fledgling innovation center said Friday that he has resigned from his political party.
Ilya Ponomaryov said he will remain in parliament to set up an alternative group of cross-party forces.
Announcing his decision to leave A Just Russia party, Ponomaryov said he planned to set up a group of deputies with the working name of Alternative, which he said would give back representation to protest groups in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
“Many…remaining as members of A Just Russia will join in a cross-party group of deputies, along with those from other factions,” he said.
“I think a few Communists will definitely join, maybe even someone from United Russia. This won’t happen instantly, but I think it will be formed within around six months,” he said.
Despite formally leaving A Just Russia, he will remain with its bloc in the State Duma, he said.
Ponomaryov told reporters that he has notified the party’s chairman, Sergei Mironov.
The party had previously asked Ponomaryov to resign after Russian investigators launched a probe into allegations that Skolkovo Foundation Vice President Alexei Beltyukov had improperly used $750,000 that he paid to Ponomaryov.
Ponomaryov was paid $300,000 between February 2011 and February 2012 to deliver 10 lectures in various Russian cities, and another $450,000 for scientific and research work, the Investigative Committee said in May.
Earlier media reports said Ponomaryov could be forced to leave his party for siding with another prominent opposition figure, Gennady Gudkov, who was stripped last year of his parliamentary mandate over business activities.