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Russian opposition lawmaker accused of treason

MOSCOW — In a striking move to purge the Russian Parliament of even the faintest of contrarian voices, legislative leaders on Friday accused an opposition lawmaker of treason and demanded an ethics investigation, saying that the legislator had used a visit to Washington earlier this month to urge the United States to meddle in Russia’s internal affairs.

The accused lawmaker, Dmitry Gudkov, is one of just two members of the State Duma who are leading supporters of the Russian political opposition and who have participated since December 2011 in the large street protests in Moscow calling for the ouster of President Vladimir Putin.

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Earlier this week, Gudkov was expelled from his party, Just Russia, after its leaders said he had refused to give up his leadership role in the opposition. Just Russia is one of three minority parties in the Parliament, which is run by United Russia, the party that backed Putin for president.

The other opposition lawmaker, Ilya V. Ponomarev, quit Just Russia this week in solidarity with Gudkov. For now, they remain members of the Duma as independents.

But the accusations of treason against Gudkov, 33, are seen as a clear precursor to an effort to strip him of his seat. In September, his father, Gennadi V. Gudkov, a four-term lawmaker from the Just Russia faction, was similarly expelled from the Duma after being accused of violating rules that restrict members of Parliament from operating businesses.

Dmitry Gudkov visited the United States this month where he participated in a panel discussion by Freedom House, a nonprofit group that works to promote democracy.

While he made some remarks critical of Putin’s government and the Duma itself, the charges of treason were all the more stunning because Dmitry Gudkov went out of his way during his public statement to stress that the political opposition was working only in Russia’s interests.

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