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Russian Deputy's Speaking Rights Suspended For 'Unethical' Inquiry

Nikolai Ryabov
Nikolai Ryabov
MOSCOW -- The Russian Duma has stripped a Communist Party deputy of his speaking rights for a month due to an "unethical" financial inquiry, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The Duma's 308 deputies of the ruling United Russia faction -- from a total of 450 deputies -- voted on January 13 to suspend Nikolai Ryabov's speaking privileges. The remaining deputies in attendance voted against the motion.

The Duma's Ethics Commission ruled earlier that Ryabov's request on December 4, in which he asked to examine the financing of the Russian regions' representations to the federal government, was "unethical" and "unfounded."

Commission head Aleksandr Gurov said Ryabov called the articles on the expenditure of regional offices "thievish" and called federal and regional authorities "the subjects of theft."

Budget Committee Deputy Chairman Andrey Makarov, who initiated the complaint against Ryabov, told RFE/RL he believes he should be criminally prosecuted. He said his analysis of Ryabov's request showed it to be unethical.

Makarov refused to give examples of any insulting words used by Ryabov, referring people to read his analysis. He also refused to explain what criminal charges could be brought against Ryabov.

Ryabov told RFE/RL he disagrees with the commission's decision and has asked for clarification of the objectives of the government's regional representations and the reasons for their "enormous" budgets.

Ryabov added that he discovered that the Kremlin's representatives in Nizhny Novgorod plan to spend some 53 million rubles ($2 million) in 2010 -- a sum
which if multiplied by all the regions -- equals some 5 billion rubles ($170 million).

He said it is natural to question the need for such amount of money, because he knows that the Nizhny Novgorod representatives' budget is used for accommodation and for travel back and forth to Moscow on personal and business trips.

Ryabov added that on December 10 he sent a similar request to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin but did not receive a reply.

In early December, Ryabov initiated a similar request, asking from which budget the four-hour live call-in show held by Putin was financed. His request was rejected.

Ryabov also had his speaking privileges suspended for one month in March when he said Russian Duma Deputy Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin was speaking "terrible lies" when he said that the United Russia party had won elections with 66 percent of the vote.