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United Russia's top official says upper house speaker Mironov should resign

VOLGOGRAD, May 6 (RIA Novosti) - Sergei Mironov, the speaker of the Russian parliament's upper house, should resign because of his opposition to the authorities who gave him his mandate, the speaker of the parliament's lower house and United Russia's Supreme Council chairman said on Friday.

Mironov, who was elected by the St. Petersburg legislative assembly, controlled by United Russia, has come under attack over his recent calls for the resignation of St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko and repeated critical statements about his home city's Legislative Assembly.

"The party's position towards Mironov is that he should hand over his senator's mandate," Boris Gryzlov told journalists in the Russian Volga city of Volgograd.

"If Mironov expresses in his statements not just disagreement with the activity of a legislative and executive body, but actually matches himself and his position against the city authorities, then it would be right if he handed over his mandate," the State Duma speaker said. "Let him search for an authority that he will be ready to represent."

The St. Petersburg legislature said it will review the matter at its meeting on May 18.

Twenty-six votes are needed to unseat Mironov. United Russia has 23 of 50 seats in the legislature. The Russian Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), who has five seats, and the Communists, who hold nine mandates, have already said that they will vote for Mironov's dismissal. A Just Russia has only 13 seats in the assembly.

Mironov has admitted that the legislature "has every right to recall me from the Federation Council," but said he would like to know what the formal grounds for his recall were. He acknowledged, however, that "the law provides for my recall without any reason being given."

A de facto leader of A Just Russia party, Mironov said on Wednesday it was "obvious" why United Russia was pushing for his resignation. "These are my political views. I don't share United Russia's ideology, I am a leader of another party," he said.

In his May Day public remarks, Mironov described St. Petersburg as one of the most corrupt cities in Russia. United Russia said Mironov had done practically nothing for his home town during the 10 years he had been the speaker, only criticizing it unfairly.

In mid-April, Mironov formally quit as chairman of A Just Russia, but suggested he would remain its unofficial leader and lead its list in December's Duma elections. Some analysts see the Mironov case as a move by the Kremlin to cast him as an opposition figure who might subsequently head a "controlled opposition" to lend greater legitimacy to next year's presidential elections.

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