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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zhirinovsky Says Faction Expelled 2 Deputies

ReutersOleg Malyshkin
The State Duma faction of the Liberal Democratic Party has ousted two of its most prominent deputies for refusing to participate in regional elections in March, party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said Friday.

Zhirinovsky said the two -- Suleiman Kerimov, Russia's second-richest businessman, and Oleg Malyshkin, who ran for president in 2004 -- had refused to run on the party's regional lists during elections to regional legislatures on March 11.
Suleiman Kerimov
"They have violated party discipline by refusing to participate in the local elections," Zhirinovsky said, Interfax reported.

He did not say whether the two, who will now serve in the Duma as independent deputies, had also been kicked out of the party.

Parties, in hope of attracting more votes, routinely put federal lawmakers and governors at the top of their party lists during regional elections. But these figures almost never quit their jobs to take up seats in local legislatures.

Despite losing two deputies, the Liberal Democratic Party faction remains the third-largest in the Duma, with 30 deputies, according to the Duma's official web site.

Both Malyshkin and Kerimov have confirmed that they are no longer in the party's Duma faction, but have not said why.

Malyshkin suggested that he had left on his own, saying his departure "was a thoroughly thought-over decision," Interfax reported. Rather than run himself, Zhirinovsky decided to field Malyshkin in the March 2004 election that President Vladimir Putin easily won. Malyshkin, Zhirinovsky's bodyguard and a former professional boxer, finished in fourth place with 1.4 million votes.

A source close to Kerimov confirmed to Interfax on Friday that Kerimov was no longer in the faction but did not elaborate.

The secretive Dagestani-born businessman made headlines when he crashed an expensive Ferrari in France last November.

Kerimov more than doubled his wealth to $14.4 billion over the past year, becoming Russia's second-richest man and the world's 35th in Forbes' annual list of the world's richest people.