Russia senator quits over citizenship scandal

A Russian senator submitted his resignation on Tuesday after a leading opposition anti-corruption crusader accused him of having property abroad and holding Israeli citizenship under a Hebrew name.

Vitaly Malkin, a member of Russia's upper house the Federation Council has resigned, a parliament spokesman told AFP, quoting the head of the chamber's procedural committee Vadim Tyulpanov.

An aide to Malkin, who represented the Siberian region of Buryatia, was not immediately available for comment.

The resignation comes after Alexei Navalny, arguably the most charismatic leader of Russia's opposition movement, posted documents online showing that the 60-year-old senator had Israeli citizenship under the Hebrew name Avihur Ben Bar.

Malkin was deputy head of the Federation Council's international affairs committee and as such might have had a special security clearance giving access to classified information, Navalny speculated.

The blogger also accused Malkin of failing to declare business interests and property in Canada.

Malkin has said he had acquired Israeli citizenship in 2004 but renounced his passport in 2007 after a law was passed in 2006 banning state officials from having dual nationality.

His resignation is another feather in the cap for Russia's top opposition blogger Navalny whose previous expose forced a leading lawmaker to resign last month.

Vladimir Pekhtin, the head of the ethics committee at parliament's lower house, the State Duma, quit after Navalny and his associates posted property deeds and other documents online showing the lawmaker had US-based property worth over $2 million.