Russia senate speaker should resign: ruling party

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Russia's senate speaker should resign, the head of the ruling United Russia party Boris Gryzlov said Friday as pressure piled on one of the country's most senior politicians to go ahead of polls.

For the past several days Sergei Mironov, speaker of the upper house of parliament, has been under pressure to resign, a dramatic reversal for the fiercely pro-Kremlin functionary and number four official in the country's political pecking order.

"The party has a position with respect to Mironov -- he needs to surrender his senator's mandate," Gryzlov said in comments released by his party, whose overall leader is Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

In the absence of public reaction from President Dmitry Medvedev and Putin, Gryzlov has become the most senior official to speak on the matter.

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

The Saint Petersburg city legislature said this week it would debate on May 18 whether to recall Mironov as its representative in the upper house.

The pressure on Mironov comes amid reports that the Kremlin is seeking to build A Just Russia into a rival of Putin's United Russia party ahead of 2012 presidential polls in which both Medvedev and Putin are considering running.

Citing a senior lawmaker, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported this month that the Kremlin wanted to strengthen A Just Russia into a major force that could provide Medvedev with a political springboard ahead of parliamentary polls in December.

Prominent United Russia lawmaker Konstantin Zatulin told the newspaper that Medvedev's push to stay in the Kremlin violated his pact with Putin who shows no willingness to retire.

The United Russia party has said its decision to oust Mironov was prompted by the senate speaker calling Saint Petersburg, the home town of the country's ruling duo, "the most corrupt city in Russia."

© 2011 AFP

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