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Lawmaker quits over property revelations

Feb. 20, 2013 at 10:45 AM

MOSCOW, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- The chairman of the Russian parliament's ethics committee resigned Wednesday over revelations he owned $1.3 million in real estate in Florida, officials say.

The property was not listed among assets lawmakers are required to disclose, The New York Times reported.

Announcing his resignation during the morning session of parliament, Vladimir A. Pekhtin said he had not broken any laws, but felt it was necessary to clear up "obvious legal misunderstandings" caused by documents about his properties published on the Internet.

Blogger Aleksei Navalny published documents detailing Pekhtin's extensive real estate holdings, including a $1.3 million condo on Miami's South Beach, last Wednesday, a day after President Vladimir Putin put forth legislation that would prohibit senior Russian officials from holding bank accounts or owning stock outside the country.

It does not ban lawmakers from owning property overseas.

Sergei Mironov, head of the minority A Just Russia party, said he expected Pekhtin's resignation was just the start of a "record number of early terminations" by members of the parliament.

"Pandora's box has been opened," he said.

"For me it is completely obvious that, if there were not some real facts there, the deputy would not have voluntarily given up his authority," Mironov said.

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