After announcing a corruption inquiry against fellow party members, Natalia Poklonskaya is booted from her State Duma committee

Two days after Natalia Poklonskaya said her State Duma committee would review the income declarations of five fellow lawmakers, the parliament’s Regulations Committee has decided to strip her of that authority by merging her group with the Duma’s Ethics Committee. According to Olga Savastyanova, the chair of the Regulations Committee, this merger has been under discussion since the beginning of the year, and the new combined group will also gain the power to revoke deputies’ mandates before their terms are up.

Crimea’s first post-annexation attorney general, Natalia Poklonskaya has chaired the State Duma’s Income Declarations Committee since 2016. Earlier this year, in July, she was the only member of United Russia to vote against a controversial bill that would raise the country’s retirement age. On the day of that vote, as a show of protest against her decision to break party ranks, only two of her 16 colleagues showed up for a session of her committee. Sergey Neverov, the head of United Russia’s Duma faction, also stressed that Poklonskaya needs to decide if she is a team player.

On September 11, the news agency Interfax reported that United Russia is planning to remove her from the State Duma’s Committee on Security and Countering Corruption. Hours later, Poklonskaya made her own announcement, saying that her other committee (which monitors lawmakers’ incomes) would audit five United Russia deputies and one Just Russia deputy for potentially illegal involvement in undeclared “business entities,” including enterprises based abroad.

What’s so special about Natalia Poklonskaya?

In mid-July, United Russia passed a first reading of unpopular legislation that would raise the retirement age from 65 to 65 for men and from 55 to 63 for women. United Russia was the only faction to support the bill, but its super majority in the parliament carried the measure with 328 votes in favor and 104 opposed. Poklonskaya was the only party member to reject the legislation, though another eight United Russia deputies abstained. She said on September 11 that she will try to add her own amendments to a second reading of the legislation.

In 2017, Transparency International claimed that Poklonskaya failed to declare an apartment she allegedly owns in Donetsk, and appealed to her Duma committee for an investigation. Poklonskaya says the organization filed seven requests, but she rejected all of them, explaining that they were submitted “in violation of the rules.”

Known for her devout religiosity and culturally conservative views, Poklonskaya has been one of the State Duma’s most visible deputies, thanks in part to her previous role as Crimea’s first post-annexation attorney general, which brought her international media attention.