Russian lawmaker risks losing immunity for illegal elk kill

A Russian parliamentary commission has recommended stripping a lawmaker in the lower house of his immunity from prosecution as he faces charges over the illegal killing of an elk

MOSCOW -- A Russian parliamentary commission recommended Monday that a lawmaker in the lower house be stripped of his immunity as he faces charges over illegally killing an elk.

Valery Rashkin, 66, first denied the accusations but later reversed course and confessed to killing the elk without a hunting license.

Some Russian media alleged that Rashkin, a member of the Communist Party, faced the charges due to his frequent criticism of the Kremlin and his support for jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the most high-profile critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Communist Party is nominally in opposition to the Kremlin, but it votes in line with its wishes on key policy issues. Some observers alleged that Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov could have quietly backed the charges against Rashkin, whom he sees as a destabilizing figure.

The State Duma's procedural panel recommended Monday that it strip Rashkin of his immunity as a lawmaker, as demanded by prosecutors. The lower house is to vote on the issue Thursday.