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Ilya Vladimirovich Ponomarev (Russian: Илья́ Влади́мирович Пономарёв; born 6 August 1975) is a Russian politician, former member of the State Duma and a technology entrepreneur.

Ilya Ponomarev
Ponomarev at a podium
Ponomarev at the 2012 Horasis Global Russia Business Meeting
Member of the State Duma
In office
24 December 2011 – 10 June 2016
Personal details
Born (1975-08-06) 6 August 1975 (age 43)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
(now Moscow, Russia)
Political partyLeft Front, Communist Party of Russia, A Just Russia
OccupationBusinessman, politician
Known forWork with Skolkovo Foundation and hi-tech parks, sole vote against annexation of Crimea, position against Russian war in Ukraine, participation in protest movement in Russia

He was the only member of the State Duma to vote against Russia's annexation of Crimea during the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[1][2] Ponomarev lives in exile in Kiev, Ukraine.[3][4]


Early life and educationEdit

Ponomarev was born in Moscow.[5] He holds a BSc in Physics from Moscow State University and a Master of Public Administration from the Russian State Social University.[5] He started his career when he was 14 years old at the Institute for Nuclear Safety (IBRAE), Russian Academy of Sciences. Later Ponomarev was among the founders of two successful high technology start-ups in Russia, the first one (RussProfi) when he was 16 years old. His first job position was at the Institute for Nuclear Safety (IBRAE), Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1995/1996 Ponomarev acted as a representative of the networking software company Banyan Systems in Russia. At that time he created one of the largest distributed networks in Russia for now-defunct oil company Yukos. Afterwards he worked at Schlumberger in 1996–1998 and at Yukos from 1998–2001. He went on to earn a living as a technology entrepreneur.[5][6] In 2002–2007 Ponomarev worked as the chief information officer of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.[7]


Ponomarev is known to be standing on unorthodox left, best described as progressive libertarian position. Some people call him "neo-communist",[6] although critics inside the Communist Party of Russia have identified him as "neotrotskyist".[8] Ponomarev publicly calls for:

  • society of equal opportunities for everyone without oppression and exploitation based on equal access to education,
  • non-restrictive government being gradually replaced by direct democracy,
  • promotion of social and business entrepreneurship that will transform the society,
  • visa-free travel and abolishing national borders,
  • traditional private property to be replaced with possession of knowledge and know-how.[9]

Geopolitically Ponomarev advocates broader Northern Union between originally Christian nations of Europe, Americas and former USSR[10] and sharply criticizes the US-centric model of globalization that is promoted through IMF, WTO and G8 structures.[11] He himself identifies his approach as "social globalism".[9][12]

He is also skeptical about the Russian model of privatization, and blames its neoliberal architects for failed democracy in Russia.[13]

Ilya Ponomarev calls to replace current model of presidential republic in Russia with parliamentary democracy, based on guarded division of branches of power with leading role of judicial branch,[14] strong federalist model with most tax revenues staying in regions.[15]

Ponomarev usually stresses that leftists should protect political and social freedoms and stand on behalf all oppressed groups of population, justifying his position on LGBT and feminist rights.[16] He is always critical of nationalism and clericalism, although known to maintain good personal relations with their prominent activists.[17]

Ponomarev was:

  • Vice president of Yukos Oil Company, largest Russian oil and gas corporation. Ponomarev's duties during 4 years at Yukos at different times included being corporate CIO as well as chief executive and chief of operations in Yukos' oilfield technologies and services subsidiaries and daughter investment company ARRAVA IMC (specialized in high technologies). Siberian Internet Company, which was founded by Ponomarev, was the cradle of prominent Internet projects in Russia, like
  • Director for Business Development and Marketing in CIS for Schlumberger Oilfield Services, responsible for scouting, adopting into Schlumberger product lines and further global marketing of Russia-originated technologies in energy sector
  • Vice president for strategy, regional development and government relations at IBS, at time largest Russian system integrator and consulting company

In 2006/2007, Ponomarev was working for Secretary of IT and Telecom as national coordinator for hi-tech parks task force – a $6 bln. private-public project to develop a network of small settlements across the country for fostering innovation and R&D activities.

In December 2007 Ponomarev was elected to the State Duma,[6] representing Novosibirsk. In Duma Ilya Ponomarev chairs Innovation and Venture capital subcommittee of Committee for Economical Development and Entrepreneurship (formerly Technology Development subcommittee of Committee of Information Technologies and Communications). He is author of amendments to the Civil Code, legalizing LLPs in Russia, Net Businesses Act, tax breaks for technology companies, current State Procurement Law and other fiscal and economic measures to support small and medium businesses in Russia and foster competition.

In 2010–2012 in parallel to being member of Duma Ponomarev also headed International Business Development, Commercialization and Technology Transfer for the Skolkovo Foundation – a managing company of the project initiated by Pres. Dmitry Medvedev. He was responsible for creating SkolTech – a joint university between Russia and MIT.[citation needed]

In April 2014 Ponomarev had orchestrated a successful campaign of coalition of opposition forces for the post of Mayor of Novosibirsk and withdrew his own candidacy in favour of the single opposition candidate, communist Anatoly Lokot,[18] who eventually won the elections.[19] In May 2014,following the elections, Ponomarev was appointed "Counselor for Strategic Development and Investments" for Novosibirsk city[citation needed].

He is member of Society of Petroleum Engineers (IT), Council for Foreign and Defense Policies, Council for National Strategy, fellow at "Open Russia" foundation. Ponomarev is supervising innovation policies research at Institute of Contemporary Development (INSOR, think-tank chaired by Pres. Medvedev), and political studies at Institute of Globalization Studies (IPROG). He also chairs Boards of Trustees at Institute of Innovation Studies, a think tank working on legislation for high-tech industries, and Open Projects Foundation – investment vehicle for projects in crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and open government. In 2010 Ponomarev became co-founder of Korean-Russian Business Council (KRBC).

Ponomarev is a member of Global Science and Innovations Council (GSAIC), chaired by Prime Minister of Malaysia. He is an author of research papers and magazine articles about new economy development, regional policies, education and international relations.

In 2014 Ponomarev became founder of the Institute of Siberia – an analytical center focused on the regional development of Siberia.

During his political career, he was member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (2002–2007) and member of Central Committee Social-Democrat political party A Just Russia (2007–2013), at the beginning of 2014 took part in formation of new political party "Alliance of Greens and Social-Democrats".

Opposition to PutinEdit

Ponomarev in March 2012

In 2012, Ponomarev and fellow MP Dmitry G. Gudkov took a leadership role in street protests against Putin's rule.[6] Following the 4 March presidential election, in which Putin was elected for his third term as president, Ponomarev accused the government of unfair vote-counting practices, stating that the election should have been close enough for a run-off.[20] In May, Ponomarev criticized Putin's decision to retain Igor Shuvalov in his cabinet despite a corruption scandal.[21] The following month, Ponomarev and Gudkov led a filibuster against a bill by Putin's United Russia party allowing large fines for anti-government protesters; though the filibuster was unsuccessful, the action attracted widespread attention.[6] Later among several other politicians Ponomarev successfully challenged this piece of legislation in Constitutional Court, partially rolling the situation back.

In June 2012, Ponomarev made a speech in the Duma in which he called United Russia members "crooks and thieves", a phrase originally used by anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny. In September same year, Duma members voted to censure Ponomarev and bar him from speaking for one month. United Russia members also proposed charging him with defamation.[22]

In July, he sharply criticized the government response to the widespread flooding in Southern Russia Krymsk, which killed 172 people.[23] Together with several other civil activists, namely Alyona Popova, Mitya Aleshkovsky, Danila Lindele and Maria Baronova he organized a nationwide fundraising campaign which had drawn public attention and generated almost $1 mln. in small donations and humanitarian aid for flood victims.[citation needed]

In December 2012 Ponomarev was most vocal critic of Dima Yakovlev Law, restricting international adoption of Russian orphans (during first reading he was the only MP who voted against, in the last third reading this number grew to just eight MPs). In 2013 Ponomarev was the only MP who refused to support the gay propaganda law. On 20 March 2014, Ponomarev was again the only State Duma member to vote against the accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation in the 2014 Crimean crisis.[24]

Internet censorshipEdit

In 2012 Ponomarev supported[25][26] Internet Restriction Bill: anti child pornography and drug trading legislation introduced by his party mate and fellow parliamentarian Yelena Mizulina, which critics compare with the Chinese Internet Firewall[27][28] -- RosKomCenzura blocklist of censored pages, domain names and IP addresses. Ponomarev explained his actions with possibility to limit government involvement in Internet regulation and create a self-governing body of Net-activists,[29] which was proposed in the bill, but a Russian blogger and journalist Maxim "Parker" Kononenko has accused[27][30] Ponomarev of lobbying commercial interests of the company "Infra-engineering" owned by Konstantin Malofeev,[31] a businessman connected with the censorship lobby, where Vladimir Ponomarev, father of Ponomarev, served on the board as an independent director. According to the law, all Internet providers are obliged to install expensive DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) hardware, which some people believed will go through "Infra-engineering". In reality none of DPI servers were ever sold by "Infra-engineering"[citation needed], but Vladimir Ponomarev had resigned from the board to stop speculations[citation needed].

In July 2013 Ponomarev took part in the meeting of Russian Pirate Party, where he announced that his support for Mizulina's bill was a mistake[32][unreliable source] and later numerously voted against new initiatives by Russian government to restrict Internet freedoms and became instrumental in campaign against Russian version of SOPA.[33] Despite this Ponomarev is often portrayed by some opposition activists such as Alexey Navalny and Leonid Volkov as "censorship lobbyist", which he himself claims to originate from political competition and struggle over influence over the Internet community in Russia.[34]

Leonid Razvozzhayev incidentEdit

In October 2012, the pro-government news channel NTV aired a documentary which accused Ponomarev's aide Leonid Razvozzhayev of arranging a meeting between another opposition ex-leader, the Left Front's Sergei Udaltsov, and a Georgian official Givi Targamadze, for the purpose of overthrowing President Vladimir Putin.[35] A spokesman for Russian investigators stated that the government was considering terrorism charges against Udaltsov,[35] and Razvozzhayev, Udaltsov, and Konstantin Lebedev, an assistant of Udaltsov's, were charged with "plotting mass riots".[36] Razvozzhayev fled to Kiev, Ukraine, where he applied for asylum from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, but disappeared after leaving the office for lunch.[35] He resurfaced in Moscow three days later, where the website Life News caught him on tape leaving a Moscow courthouse, shouting that he had been abducted and tortured.[35][37] A spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee stated that Razvozzhayev had not been abducted, but had turned himself in freely and volunteered a confession of his conspiracy with Udaltsov and Lebedev to cause widespread rioting.[35]

Vladimir Burmatov, a United Russia MP, called on Ponomarev to resign from the State Duma for his association with Razvozzhayev.[38]

In August 2014 both Udaltsov and Razvozzhayev were sentenced to 4.5 years in camp.

Russian annexation of Crimea and accusations of embezzlementEdit

Ponomarev was the only member of the State Duma to vote against annexation of Crimea during the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[2][1] Despite being very critical over the 2014 Ukrainian revolution as being driven by alliance of neoliberals and nationalists, he justified his position in Duma with the necessity to keep friendly relations with the "brotherly Ukrainian nation", avoid military confrontation at all costs, and argued that Russia's actions in Crimea would push Ukraine outside the traditional sphere of Russian influence and possibly provoke further expansion of NATO.[39] After being the only deputy to oppose the annexation in a 445-1 landslide vote many people called for his resignation, however Ponomarev responded that deputies can not be prosecuted or removed simply because of the way they vote in parliament. He was threatened with censure and expulsion but the parliament took no further action regarding the status of Ponomarev as deputy.[40] In August 2014, while he was in California, federal bailiffs froze Ponomarev's bank accounts and announced that they would not allow him to return to Russia. He then lived in San Jose, California,[41] but is since 2016 a permanent resident of Ukraine's capital Kiev.[3][4]

In March 2015 it was reported that Ponomarev was living in exile.[42] In April 2015 the Duma moved to strip his constitutional protection from criminal prosecution.[43]

Russian investigation committee launched a fraud inquiry against Ponomarev for embezzling 22 million rubles earmarked for the Skolkovo technology hub, an action Ponomarev describes as politically motivated. Russian investigators discovered that Skolkovo Vice-President Aleksey Beltyukov had paid Ponomarev about $750,000 for 10 lectures and one research paper.[citation needed] The probe and subsequent court hearings proved these allegations to be true.[citation needed] Beltyukov was suspended and a criminal investigation into his case is ongoing. Ponomarev was not prosecuted because of his parliamentary immunity, but the court ordered him to return the money.[citation needed] Despite not residing in Russia Illya Ponomarev continued to hold his parliamentary position and was technically and active member of the Russian Duma until the September 2016 Duma election.[44][45]

In 2015 Moscow Bauman Court heard Ponomaryov case in absentia and decided to arrest him, an international search warrant was issued. On 10 June 2016 State Duma impeached Ponomarev for truancy and not performing his duties. It was the first precedent of application of the controversial 2016 law that allows Duma to impeach its deputies.[46][47]

Personal lifeEdit

Ponomarev is divorced. He has a son and a daughter.[5] His mother, Larisa Ponomareva, was an MP in the upper house of Russia's Parliament, the Federation Council, until September 2013, when she was forced to resign following her lone vote against the Dima Yakovlev Law.[6] Ponomarev is a nephew of Boris Ponomarev, Secretary for International Relations of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Ponomarev's grandfather Nikolai Ponomarev was the Soviet ambassador to Poland and is believed to have prevented the USSR's invasion of the country together with Wojciech Jaruzelski and paid with his career for doing that.[citation needed]

Ponomarev told The Daily Beast in April 2016 that he lived in Ukraine's capital Kiev full-time.[4] He has received a Ukrainian temporary residence permit.[3]

After fellow former Russian MP Denis Voronenkov was shot and killed in Kiev on 23 March 2017 Ponomarev was given personal protection by the Ukrainian Security Service.[48] Voronenkov was on his way to meet Ponomarev when he was shot.[48]


  1. ^ a b Gorelova, Anastasia (2014-03-25). "Russian deputy isolated after opposing Crimea annexation". Reuters. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  2. ^ a b ""Unanimous Russia: Crimea Marks Open Season on Enemies" by Antonova, Maria - Russian Life, Vol. 57, Issue 3, May-June 2014 - Online Research Library: Questia".
  3. ^ a b c (in Ukrainian) Former State Duma deputy investigation gave evidence in the case Yanukovich, Ukrayinska Pravda (27 December 2016)
  4. ^ a b c Putin’s Nemesis Dmitry Gudkov Dishes On His Achilles’ Heel, The Daily Beast (8 April 2016)
  5. ^ a b c d "Ilya Ponomarev" (in Russian). A Just Russia. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e f David M. Herszenhorn (23 June 2012). "Working Russia's Streets, and Its Halls of Power". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  7. ^ Francesca Mereu (11 December 2003). "Defeat Could Widen Split in Communist Party". The Moscow Times.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 16, 2014. Retrieved August 14, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  9. ^ a b "Ilya Ponomarev: program of the left". Ilya Ponomarev's blog. Archived from the original on 2016-01-27.
  10. ^ "Ilya Ponomarev about opposition, Siberian and agreements with Kremlin".
  11. ^ "Ilya Ponomarev: our main problem is ourselves". Moscow Vedomosti.
  12. ^ Vasily Koltashov. "Two years of movement".
  13. ^ Ilya Ponomarev. "Modern left in Russia". Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  14. ^ "Ilya Ponomarev: When fathers fail, youth should continue". Versia (in Russian). Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  15. ^ "Ilya Ponomarev and Alyona Popova: Stop feeding Moscow!".
  16. ^ "Ilya Ponomarev and Karin Clement: What is modern left in Russia". Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  17. ^ "Kiev checkpoint for Russian left". Ilya Ponomarev's blog. Archived from the original on 2016-01-27. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  18. ^ "Илья Пономарев снялся с выборов мэра Новосибирска". Lenta. 28 March 2014.
  19. ^ "Putin's party loses mayor race in Russia's third largest city". GlobalPost. 2014-04-04. Archived from the original on 2014-04-08. Retrieved 2014-04-11.
  20. ^ Phil Black (4 March 2012). "Putin Poised To Retake Russian Presidency". CNN. Retrieved 22 October 2012 – via Questia Online Library.
  21. ^ Vladimir Isachenkov (21 May 2012). "Russian leader Putin names new Cabinet". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  22. ^ Andrew Roth (26 October 2012). "Russian Parliament Bars Opposition Lawmaker From Speaking". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  23. ^ Andrew E. Kramer (7 July 2012). "Heavy Rain in Southern Russia Brings Deadly Flash Floods". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  24. ^ Taylor, Adam (2014-03-19). "Meet the one Russian lawmaker who voted against making Crimea part of Russia". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  25. ^ "Сегодня в Думе рассматривают закон об интернете во втором (и в третьем) чтении. Правда о законе". Ponomarev's blog, 2012-11-07. Archived from the original on 2013-07-06.
  26. ^ Lukas I. Alpert (July 11, 2012). "Russian Duma Passes Internet Censorship Bill". Wall Street Journal.
  27. ^ a b ""Kитайский интернет" в России, а также - почему Илья Пономарев голосовал за интернет-цензуру". Эхо России (общественно-политический журнал). 2012-11-26.
  28. ^ "Заявление членов Совета в отношении законопроекта № 89417-6 «О внесении изменений в Федеральный закон "О защите детей от информации, причиняющей вред их здоровью и развитию"". Совет при Президенте Российской Федерации по развитию гражданского общества и правам человека. Archived from the original on 2013-02-02. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
  29. ^ Ilya Ponomarev. "More over Internet self-governing law". Archived from the original on 2016-01-27.
  30. ^ "Почему Илья Пономарев голосовал за реестр запрещенных сайтов". Идiотъ: Махим Кононенко's blog. 2012-11-14.
  31. ^ "Полиция обыскала офис холдинга "Инфра инжиниринг" Константина Малофеева". Ведомости. November 12, 2013.
  32. ^ "Пиратский Митинг Против Закона Против Интернета: Tupikin". 2013-07-29. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  33. ^ Ilya Ponomarev. "Dirty tricks while passing new Internet legislation". Archived from the original on 2013-06-27.
  34. ^ Ilya Ponomarev. "Why Navalny called me a jerk". Archived from the original on 2014-03-18.
  35. ^ a b c d e David M. Herzenhorn (22 October 2012). "Opposition Figure Wanted in Russia Says He Was Kidnapped and Tortured". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  36. ^ "Russia must investigate claims Leonid Razvozzhayev was abducted and tortured". Amnesty International. 24 October 2012. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  37. ^ Леонид Развозжаев признался в организации беспорядков на митинге 6 мая на Болотной площади в Москве (in Russian). 22 October 2012. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  38. ^ Brian Whitmore (23 October 2012). "The Seizure Of Leonid Razvozzhayev". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  39. ^ "И снова про Украину - Илья Пономарёв". Archived from the original on 2016-01-27. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  40. ^ "Odd Man Out When Vote Was 445-1 on Crimea". The New York Times. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  41. ^ Rosie Gray (March 23, 2015). "Russia Today Should Be Regulated As Lobbyists, Opposition Lawmaker Says". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved May 6, 2015. Last August, Ponomarev found out that he had been charged with illegally funneling money from a startup foundation he was involved with, charges he has said are "fabricated" and really meant as payback for his Crimea vote. Since then, Ponomarev has been living in San José.
  42. ^ Taylor, Adam. "A year ago he was the only Russian politician to vote against annexing Crimea. Now he's an exile". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  43. ^ "Lawmakers Take Step to Remove Putin Critic", The New York Times, April 7, 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  44. ^ "Lone Russian Lawmaker To Oppose Crimean Annexation Faces Fraud Probe". Radio Free Europe.
  45. ^ "Ilya Ponomarev, a Lone Warrior Who Stands Up to Putin". Newsweek.
  46. ^ "Илью Пономарева лишили мандата депутата Госдумы РФ". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 12 June 2016.
  47. ^ "Госдума лишила Илью Пономарева депутатского мандата". TASS. 10 June 2016.
  48. ^ a b Walker, Shaun (23 March 2017). "Denis Voronenkov: former Russian MP who fled to Ukraine shot dead in Kiev". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 March 2017.

External linksEdit