MOSCOW - Longtime Russian parliament speaker Boris Gryzlov, the day-to-day head of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party, said on Wednesday he would not take his seat in the State Duma lower house elected last week.
The decision appeared aimed at cooling public anger over an election opponents say was rigged in the ruling party's favor. Protests against the result have undermined Putin's authority ahead of a March vote in which he plans to return to the presidency.
"I decided today to reject my mandate as a deputy," Gryzlov said in remarks posted on the party's website, adding that it would "not be right to hold the post of chairman of the chamber for more than two consecutive terms".
As Duma speaker since 2003 and chairman of United Russia's Supreme Council, Gryzlov is a powerful symbol of a political system dominated by Putin and the party for more than a decade.