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RIA Novosti: Outspoken environment official denies parliamentary ambitions

14:11 | 13/ 08/ 2007 

MOSCOW, August 13 (RIA Novosti) – A senior environmental official, who presided over a series of high-profile probes, denied media reports Monday that he was in membership talks with a Kremlin-backed party and planned to run for parliament.

Vedomosti daily said Monday referring to a party source that Just Russia had proposed Oleg Mitvol, known for attacking Russian dignitaries over alleged construction violations and lucrative foreign-operated energy projects, join the party ranks ahead of parliamentary elections in December.

“So far, I am not going [to join the party], as I have not been invited,” the official said on Ekho Moskvy radio, although adding more environmental experts were needed in the State Duma, parliament’s lower house.

Just Russia also denied the reports. “We would certainly be glad to have people like Mitvol with his proactive stance on the country’s poor and rich and the [authorities’] reluctance to address environmental problems in our ranks. Those issues are very important to us,” Alexander Morozov, a senior party member, said.

But Morozov said Mitvol’s membership in Just Russia was “an open question.”

The paper quoted the outspoken official as saying that he would seriously consider the proposal if it were made. Mitvol said, the daily reported, that if in the State Duma, he would bring environment protection issues to the fore.

“Authorities sometimes forget that they run the country in the interests of people,” the deputy head of the environmental watchdog, Rosprirodnadzor, said as quoted by Vedomosti.

Mitvol received a lot of publicity in 2005 following attacks on pop diva Alla Pugachyova and electricity monopoly chief Anatoly Chubais over their country estates, which he said had been built on plots of land without planning permission, and over other high-profile investigations, which he seldom completes.

He also led environmental checks into Sakhalin II, which resulted in Gazprom acquiring control over the vast hydrocarbon project and elbowing its operator, Shell, into a minority position.

Vedomosti quoted experts, who said Mitvol’s chances of getting elected in large cities with serious environmental problems were high, and a seat in parliament would allow the official to wait for changes in the government following presidential elections in March 2008 to take shape.

Just Russia, which says it will challenge the ruling United Russia, but strongly supports President Vladimir Putin, is widely seen as a Kremlin project designed to poach votes from leftist political forces.

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20070813/71178890.html

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