Russian MPs may resign over foreign accounts ban

Moscow, March 28 : Several members of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament are ready to resign if a bill banning officials and lawmakers from holding accounts in foreign banks is passed, the speaker said.

"Some Federation Council members have already resigned, while several others are considering this possibility," Valentina Matviyenko said.

The bill was passed Feb 22 in the first reading by the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma. It must pass two more readings in the Duma, be approved by the Federation Council and signed by the president to become law.

The speaker said she is currently meeting council members who might be affected by the ban.

Matviyenko said that if the bill is passed, those affected "will have three months to choose: legislative work or business".

Earlier, the chamber dismissed members Vitaly Malkin, Boris Shpigel and Svetlana Zhurova.

Malkin, representing the Siberian republic of Buryatia, held a Federation Council seat since 2004 and was listed as the council's wealthiest member in 2011 with a declared income of about USD 32.7 million.

The legislator tendered his resignation following blogger Alexei Navalny's report that he holds dual Russian-Israeli citizenship and has undeclared real estate abroad, which is forbidden under Russian law.

Malkin dismissed all accusations, saying outside powers were running a "smear campaign" against him and that he was forced to resign to protect the chamber's image.

Zhurova, a 2006 Olympic gold medalist and two-time speed skating world champion, had to resign after receiving a seat in the lower chamber, the State Duma.

Shpigel, whose term was to expire in May 2015, resigned after being elected chairman of a Strasbourg-registered international human rights organization, World Without Nazism.

Under the Russian law, a Federation Council member is barred from combining legislative powers with membership in an international organisation.

--IANS (Posted on 28-03-2013)

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