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Lower house of Russian parliament stripped lawmaker critical of the Kremlin of immunity, allowing prosecutors to file charges against him for allegedly unlawful killing of moose on hunting trip

MOSCOW – The lower house of Russia’s parliament on Thursday stripped a lawmaker critical of the Kremlin of his immunity, allowing prosecutors to press charges against him for the allegedly unlawful killing of a moose while on a hunting trip.

Valery Rashkin, 66, initially denied the charges but later changed course and admitted to the murder. He insisted, however, that he did not know he was breaking the law and described the case against him as politically motivated.

The State Duma voted 341-55 to remove Rashkin from his immunity. Rashkin, who will retain his seat in parliament pending investigation, faces a fine or jail term of up to five years if convicted.

Some Russian media have alleged that Rashkin, a member of the Communist Party, was indicted because of his frequent criticism of the Kremlin and his support for jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin .

Russian Attorney General Igor Krasnov has denied any political motivation behind this case.

The Communist Party is nominally opposed to the Kremlin, but it votes according to its wishes on key political issues. Some observers have alleged that Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov could have quietly supported the charges against Rashkin, whom he sees as a destabilizing figure.

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ABC News

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