Top Putin ally quits as Russia Parliament speaker

Vladimir Putin is facing one of the biggest challenges to his 12-year rule of Russia amid the wave of protests.

Last Updated: Dec 15, 2011, 00:28 AM IST

Moscow: A leading ally of Vladimir Putin
said on Wednesday he was quitting his post as Russian Parliament
speaker, after polls that saw the ruling party lose support
and face protests against vote-rigging.

Boris Gryzlov is the highest-profile casualty yet of the
controversy surrounding the December 4 parliamentary elections
that has for the first time shaken Putin`s decade-long
domination of Russia.

"I have decided to renounce my mandate as a member of
parliament... It would be wrong to occupy the post of speaker
for more than two terms," said Gryzlov in a statement on the
website of the ruling United Russia party.

Gryzlov made no mention of the controversy surrounding
the elections which saw United Russia win less than half the
vote and then thousands take to the streets to accuse it of
rigging the polls.

However he said he would continue in his post as chairman
of United Russia, whose overall leader is Putin. Gryzlov had
served two parliament terms as speaker since 2003.

Putin -- who is preparing to move back to the presidency
in 2012 polls from his current job as prime minister -- is
facing one of the biggest challenges to his 12-year rule of
Russia amid the wave of protests.

The opposition have promised a new mass protest on
December 24 in Moscow to follow a rally that drew tens of
thousands at the weekend in the biggest show of public anger
in Russia since the turbulent 1990s.

PTI