Ilya Ponomarev

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Ilya Ponomarev
Ilya Ponomarev, 2012 Horasis Global Russia Business Meeting crop.jpg
Ponomarev at the 2012 Horasis Global Russia Business Meeting
Born (1975-08-06) August 6, 1975 (age 39)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
(now Moscow, Russian Federation)
Nationality Russian
Other names Ilya Ponomaryov
Occupation Businessman, politician
Known for Work with Skolkovo Foundation and hi-tech parks; vote against annexation of Crimea and position against war in Ukraine; participation in protest movement in Russia
Political party
Left Front, Communist Party of Russia, A Just Russia

Ilya Vladimirovich Ponomarev (Russian: Илья́ Влади́мирович Пономарёв; born 6 August 1975 in Moscow)[1] is a Russian left-wing politician, member of the State Duma and a technology entrepreneur. Ponomarev has more than 20 years of prominent political stance, complemented with international operational and investment experience working in high technology industries with a primary focus on IT and energy. His name would more accurately be transliterated as «Ponomaryov», though the form «Ponomarev» has become more frequent.

In March 2015 it was reported that he now lives in exile.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Ponomarev holds BSc in Physics from Moscow State University and Master of Public Administration from Russian State Social University.[1] He started his career when he was 14 years old in Institute for Nuclear Safety (IBRAE), Russian Academy of Sciences. Later Ponomarev was among founders of two successful high technology start-ups in Russia, the first one (RussProfi) - when he turned 16 years. His first job position was in Institute for Nuclear Safety (IBRAE), Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1995-1996 Ponomarev was representing in Russia networking software company Banyan Systems, creating largest at that time distributed network for now-defunct oil company Yukos. After he worked in Schlumberger in 1996-1998 and Yukos from 1998-2001, he went on to earn a living as a technology entrepreneur.[1][3] In 2002-2007 Ponomarev worked as the chief information officer of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.[4]


Ponomarev is known to be standing on unorthodox left, best described as progressive libertarian position. Some people call him neo-communist,[3] although critics inside Communist Party of Russia has identified him as "neotrotskyist".[5] 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.[6]

Geopolitically Ponomarev advocates broader Northern Union between originally Christian nations of Europe, Americas and former USSR[7] and sharply criticizes US-centric model of globalization that is promoted through IMF, WTO and G8 structures.[8] He himself identifies his approach as "social globalism".[6][9]

He is also skeptical about Russian model of privatization, and blames its neoliberal architects for failed democracy in Russia.[10]

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,[11] strong federalist model with most tax revenues staying in regions.[12]

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.[13] He is always critical of nationalism and clericalism, although known to maintain good personal relations with their prominent activists.[14]

More of his ideas can be found in his blog, where he publishes his yet unfinished manifesto book.

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 numerous 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 - $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,[3] 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 numerous 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 Skolkovo Foundation – managing company of the project initiated by Pres. Dmitry Medvedev, which is marketed as "the spinal cord of Russian innovation ecosystem"[citation needed]. He was responsible for creating SkolTech - 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,[15] who eventually won the elections.[16] 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, 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 numerous research papers and magazine articles about new economy development, regional policies, education and international relations.

In 2014 Ponomarev became founder of Institute of Siberia – analytical center focused on regional development of this dynamic Russian territory.

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 Putin[edit]

5 March 2012

In 2012, Ponomarev and fellow MP Dmitry G. Gudkov took a leadership role in street protests against Putin's rule.[3] 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.[17] In May, Ponomarev criticized Putin's decision to retain Igor Shuvalov in his cabinet despite a corruption scandal.[18] 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.[3] 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 "swindlers 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.[19]

In July, he sharply criticized the government response to the widespread flooding in Southern Russia Krymsk, which killed 172 people.[20] Together with several other civil activists, namely Alyona Popova, Mitya Aleshkovsky, Danila Lindele and Maria Baronova he organized a nation-wide fundraising campaign which had drawn a lot of public attention and generated almost $1 mln. in small donations and humanitarian aid for flood victims.

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 that refused to support 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.[21]

Censorship of Internet[edit]

In 2012 Ponomarev has supported[22][23] 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[24][25] -- 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,[26] which was proposed in the bill, but a Russian blogger and journalist Maxim "Parker" Kononenko has accused[24][27] Ponomarev of lobbying commercial interests of the company "Infra-engineering" owned by Konstantin Malofeev,[28] a businessman deeply 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 announced that his support for Mizulina's bill was a mistake[29][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.[30] Despite this Ponomarev is often painted by some opposition activists as Alexey Navalny and Leonid Volkov as "censorship lobbyist", which he himself claims to originate from political competition and struggle over influence over Internet community in Russia.[31]

Leonid Razvozzhayev incident[edit]

Further information: Leonid Razvozzhayev

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.[32] A spokesman for Russian investigators stated that the government was considering terrorism charges against Udaltsov,[32] and Razvozzhayev, Udaltsov, and Konstantin Lebedev, an assistant of Udaltsov's, were charged with "plotting mass riots".[33] 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.[32] 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.[32][34] 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.[32]

Vladimir Burmatov, a United Russia MP, called on Ponomarev to resign from the State Duma for his association with Razvozzhayev.[35]

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

Russian annexation of Crimea[edit]

Ponomarev was the only member of the State Duma to vote against annexation of Crimea during the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[36] Despite being very critical over 2014 Ukrainian revolution as being driven by alliance of neoliberals and nationalists, he justified his position in Duma with necessity to keep friendly relations with "brotherly Ukrainian nation", avoid military confrontation at all costs, and debated that Russia's actions in Crimea will push Ukraine outside traditional sphere of Russian influence and might provoke further expansion of NATO.[37] 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 for the way they vote in parliament. Other then being threatened with censure and expulsion the parliament took no further action regarding the status of Ponomarev as deputy.[38] At the same time in August 2014 federal bailiffs have frozen Ponomarev's bank accounts and announced that they will not allow him to cross Russian border anymore.

Personal life[edit]

Ponomarev married in 1994 [39] and has a son and a daughter.[1] 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.[3] 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]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Ilya Ponomarev" (in Russian). A Just Russia. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  2. ^ A year ago he was the only Russian politician to vote against annexing Crimea. Now he’s an exile, Washington Post, March 23, 2015.
  3. ^ 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 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Francesca Mereu (11 December 2003). "Defeat Could Widen Split in Communist Party". The Moscow Times.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Neotrotskyists and others". 
  6. ^ a b "Ilya Ponomarev: program of the left". Ilya Ponomarev's blog. 
  7. ^ "Ilya Ponomarev about opposition, Siberian and agreements with Kremlin". 
  8. ^ "Ilya Ponomarev: our main problem is ourselves". Moscow Vedomosti. 
  9. ^ Vasily Koltashov. "Two years of movement". 
  10. ^ Ilya Ponomarev. "Modern left in Russia". 
  11. ^ "Ilya Ponomarev: When fathers fails, youth should continue". Versia. 
  12. ^ "Ilya Ponomarev and Alyona Popova: Stop feeding Moscow!". 
  13. ^ "Ilya Ponomarev and Karin Clement: What is modern left in Russia". 
  14. ^ "Kiev checkpoint for Russian left". Ilya Ponomarev's blog. 
  15. ^ "Илья Пономарев снялся с выборов мэра Новосибирска". Lenta. 28 March 2014. 
  16. ^ "Putin's party loses mayor race in Russia's third largest city". GlobalPost. 2014-04-04. Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  17. ^ Phil Black (4 March 2012). "Putin Poised To Retake Russian Presidency". CNN  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  18. ^ Vladimir Isachenkov (21 May 2012). "Russian leader Putin names new Cabinet". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  19. ^ Andrew Roth (26 October 2012). "Russian Parliament Bars Opposition Lawmaker From Speaking". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  20. ^ Andrew E. Kramer (7 July 2012). "Heavy Rain in Southern Russia Brings Deadly Flash Floods". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Сегодня в Думе рассматривают закон об интернете во втором (и в третьем) чтении. Правда о законе". Ponomarev's blog, 2012-11-07. 
  23. ^ Lukas I. Alpert (July 11, 2012). "Russian Duma Passes Internet Censorship Bill". Wall Street Journal. 
  24. ^ a b ""Kитайский интернет" в России, а также - почему Илья Пономарев голосовал за интернет-цензуру". Эхо России (общественно-политический журнал). 2012-11-26. 
  25. ^ "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. 
  26. ^ Ilya Ponomarev. "More over Internet self-governing law". 
  27. ^ "Почему Илья Пономарев голосовал за реестр запрещенных сайтов". Идiотъ: Махим Кононенко's blog. 2012-11-14. 
  28. ^ "Полиция обыскала офис холдинга "Инфра инжиниринг" Константина Малофеева". Ведомости. 11.12.2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  29. ^ Живой журнал Влада Тупикина, "Репортаж с митинга Пиратской партии против закона об Интернете 28 июля 2013 года"
  30. ^ Ilya Ponomarev. "Dirty tricks while passing new Internet legislation". 
  31. ^ Ilya Ponomarev. "Why Navalny called me a jerk". 
  32. ^ 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 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  33. ^ "Russia must investigate claims Leonid Razvozzhayev was abducted and tortured". Amnesty International. 24 October 2012. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  34. ^ 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 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  35. ^ Brian Whitmore (23 October 2012). "The Seizure Of Leonid Razvozzhayev". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ Ilya Ponomarev. "Илья Пономарев о себе". Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.