Russian lawmakers have voted to take away immunity from their veteran opposition colleague as he is accused of illegally killing a moose, the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, noted Thusday.
Communist Party MP Valery Rashkin was detained at the end of October with fragments of an elk carcass and bloodstained knives in the trunk of his car.
Rashkin, 66, initially denied the charges but later confessed to killing the elk without a hunting license.
The Duma said it confirmed the attorney general’s office request to remove Rashkin’s immunity to prosecute poaching charges. against him, with 343 lawmakers voting in favor of the demand, 55 against and two abstentions.
He also allowed prosecutors to file administrative charges against Rashkin for refusing to undergo a breathalyzer test as well as to search his home and impose certain restrictions on his movements during the investigation.
The Duma’s committee on parliamentary mandates recommended that Rashkin be stripped of his immunity on Monday.
The senior lawmaker could face between three and five years in prison if convicted of illegal hunting. He could also be placed under arrest for up to 15 days for refusing to undergo a breathalyzer test and medical examination for intoxication.
Rashkin has represented the Communist Party in the State Duma since 1999.
Some observers have linked the criminal case against him to his support for jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
His detention also followed police searches at the Communist Party headquarters in Moscow as he sought to challenge the controversial online voting results in this fall’s parliamentary elections.
The Kremlin has dismissed allegations of fraud or electoral fraud and hailed the September 17-19 elections, where the Communist Party came second after the pro-Putin United Russia Party, as transparent.