Russia senate speaker loses job ahead of polls

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Russia's senate speaker lost his post on Wednesday after a regional legislature led by the ruling United Russia party voted to recall him ahead of key polls.

Pressure had mounted for weeks on Sergei Mironov, speaker of the upper house of parliament known as the Federation Council, to step down after United Russia, whose overall leader is Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said he was not loyal to the government.

Mironov, leader of the left-leaning pro-Kremlin A Just Russia party, represented Saint Petersburg in the upper house.

The Saint Petersburg city legislature said earlier on Wednesday that 43 of 48 deputies had voted to recall Mironov.

The dramatic reversal of fortune for the fiercely pro-Kremlin functionary and one of the top officials in the country's political pecking order comes amid political manoeuvring in the run-up to parliamentary elections in December followed by a presidential vote three months later.

The United Russia party is now involved in a plan championed by Putin to build a broad coalition of forces that could shore up his standing ahead of the polls.

United Russia has said its decision to oust Mironov was prompted by the senate speaker calling Saint Petersburg, the home town of both Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, "the most corrupt city in Russia."

© 2011 AFP

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