MOSCOW: A prominent Russian lawmaker has resigned as deputy head of the Russian Federation Council’s Defence Committee, saying unnamed critics did not like his “openness,” Russian media reported.
Frants Klintsevich did not elaborate on his reason for resigning as first deputy chairman of the Defence and Security Committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, but told the Kommersant daily that “apparently, not everyone at the Federation Council liked my openness.”
The Federation Council will consider whether to approve Klintsevich’s resignation at a plenary session on February 14, Russian media reported.
Klintsevich was quoted by Russian media earlier this month as claiming that preliminary Russian intelligence determined that a Russian Su-25 warplane was shot down over Syria on February 3 by Syrian rebels who used a Soviet-designed Igla MANPAD shoulder-launched missile.
A militant group called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham claimed responsibility for the downing, saying a shoulder-launched missile had been used.
Klintsevich’s claim that the missile launcher was Soviet-made was quickly denied by Russian intelligence officials, according to state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
Klintsevich had earlier told the Russian news agency Interfax that he believed the rebels used a MANPAD supplied by the United States – an assertion denied by the US State Department.
The director of Harvard University’s Russia Matters project Simon Saradzhyan tweeted that Klintsevich “had to tender his resignation” because of his claim that the missile was Soviet-made.
“To me, the most interesting question is: Is it true that an Igla shot down the plane, and if so from which country did it come?” he wrote.
It was the first time Syrian rebels have shot down a Russian warplane. In July 2016, rebels used a shoulder-launched missile to shoot down a Russian-made Syrian helicopter manned by a Russian crew.