Russian lawmaker quits over reports of Israeli citizenship

Russian lawmaker quits over reports of Israeli citizenship

Opposition blogger targets Vitaly Malkin of Putin’s United Russia party for dual nationality, undeclared foreign assets

Moscow's Red Square (photo credit: Anna Kaplan/Flash90/File)
Moscow's Red Square (photo credit: Anna Kaplan/Flash90/File)

A Jewish member of the upper house of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council, submitted his resignation Tuesday over allegations that he holds Israeli citizenship and unreported assets in Canada.

Vitaly Malkin — who made the Forbes billionaires list in 2008 and is one of Russia’s richest lawmakers — was accused by a leading opposition blogger of maintaining Israeli citizenship, despite a 2006 law that bans state officials from having dual nationality. Malkin denies this.

The blogger, Alexei Navalny, posted documents online earlier this month showing that the 60-year-old senator maintained status in Israel under the name of Avihur Ben Bar, reported AFP. Navalny also accused Malkin, a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, of failing to declare business interests and assets in Canada.

Malkin responded to the allegations by saying that he acquired Israeli citizenship in 2004, but then renounced it in 2007 in light of the dual nationality law, according to the report. “This dirty campaign in the mass media was most likely paid for by someone. I will get to the bottom of the matter,” he said on Tuesday.

Malkin explained his decision to resign by saying that he didn’t want the accusatory reports “to mar the image of the Federation Council,” reported RIA Novosti.

Malkin has represented the east Siberian republic of Buryatia since 2004.

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