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Russian lawmaker risks losing immunity for illegal elk kill

FILE - Russian Communist party candidate Valery Rashkin, center, speaks to the media as he arrives for a protest against the results of the Parliament...
FILE - Russian lawmaker Valery Rashkin, left, listens to Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov during a session prior to vote on a third rea...

FILE - Russian Communist party candidate Valery Rashkin, center, speaks to the media as he arrives for a protest against the results of the Parliament...

FILE - Russian lawmaker Valery Rashkin, left, listens to Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov during a session prior to vote on a third rea...

MOSCOW (AP) — 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.

In September, Rashkin was among a few Communist Party members who vociferously protested the alleged fraud in online voting in Moscow during Russia's parliamentary and local elections.

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.