Europe

Boxer and Manga star spice up Russian parliament

Natalia Poklonskaya emerging from a voting booth Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The clear winners in the election are Kremlin loyalists such as Natalia Poklonskaya

Russia's next parliament will be dominated by the ruling United Russia party and, as usual, will not be short of colourful personalities.

Among the 450 MPs will be a former heavyweight boxer, a youthful prosecutor from Crimea and a man who has become notorious in the West for outspoken homophobia.

And there are controversial figures, who have featured in major criminal cases in the West.


Nikolai Valuev

Former heavyweight boxer and showman Nikolai Valuev was already a towering presence in the old Duma. Standing seven feet tall (213 cm) and weighing in at over 23 stone (150 kg), he is reported to have had a special seat installed in the chamber to accommodate his large frame.

Image copyright Rossiya TV
Image caption Mr Valuev has hosted "Good night, kids", a firm favourite for generations of Soviet and Russian children

During the summer Mr Valuev hosted Russia's most popular programme for younger viewers, "Good night, kids". But he appears to have found the work of an MP somewhat challenging. "It makes my head spin. So many bills! Sometimes I don't even have time to read them before they are passed," he said in an interview.


Natalia Poklonskaya

Ms Poklonskaya was thrust into the limelight when Russia's annexed Crimea in 2014 and she was given the job of top prosecutor in the region.

Born in 1980, she is Russia's youngest female general and her appearances in the annexed territory brought her global attention, especially in Japan, where she was became a star of manga strips and anime fan art.

Image copyright Itachi Kanade
Image caption Japanese cartoon inspired by Poklonskaya

A fan of Russia's last Tsar Nicholas II, she famously said his 1917 abdication was legally null and void. Ms Poklonskaya also surprised some by turning up with a picture of the tsar at a rally honouring World War II veterans.

Because of her role in Crimea, she is subject to sanctions imposed by the EU, Japan, Ukraine and other countries.


Vitaly Milonov

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Anti-gay crusader Vitaly Milonov (L) was once confronted in his office by British actor Stephen Fry, who is openly homosexual

Mr Milonov is a hardline Orthodox believer who spends much of his time crusading against homosexuality, pornography and what he sees as excesses of Western decadence.

He brands gays "devils", and once called US pop diva Madonna a"hypocritical hag" because, he argued, she was more worried about gay rights in Russia than children dying as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.

When confronted in his office by British actor Stephen Fry, Mr Milonov said that most gays lied about their problems in Russia and just wanted to be "favoured and famous".

"You may think I'm a barbarian, a madman. But in reality I'm like everyone else, an ordinary man," he said in a recent interview.

Image copyright milonov-go.ru
Image caption The controversy surrounding Mr Milonov led to him being cast in the lead role in a Russian online game where he battles homosexuals, drug addicts and also Madonna.

Vladislav Reznik

The next Duma is also likely to contain two MPs who have figured in high-profile criminal probes.

One of them is Vladislav Reznik, the only nominally independent candidate who has managed to win a single-seat constituency.

Image copyright NTV
Image caption Mr Reznik has been investigated by the authorities in Spain

Mr Reznik sat in the previous Duma in the United Russia faction, but ran as an independent this time, one report suggested, because the party wished to distance itself from him over an investigation in Spain into his alleged links to the Russian mafia.

Mr Reznik's lawyer described the Spanish probe as "part of an extremely politicised campaign to discredit Russia".


Andrei Lugovoi

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Lugovoi is Britain's main suspect in the 2006 polonium poisoning in London of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko.

Another MP expected to make it into the next Duma is Andrei Lugovoi of the LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) party.

He is best known as the principal suspect in the fatal poisoning in London of Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) defector Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. He himself denies the accusations.

His political views? "I don't make a distinction between America and England, they are two heads of the same dragon. They have always worked and will continue to work against Russia," he once said.

Reporting by Vitaliy Shevchenko and Olga Bugorkova. BBC Monitoring covers news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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