llya Ponomarev is a politician and technology entrepreneur, in 2007-2016 – member of Russian Parliament (Social-Democrat – Novosibirsk, “A Just Russia” political party), Chairman of Innovations and Venture Capital Subcommittee, one of the founders of the Skolkovo Foundation. Former vice-president for technologies of Yukos Oil Company. In 2011 he became one of the leaders of protest movement in Russia. In 2013, as “A Just Russia” started to drift away from social-democracy to become pro-Putin and conservative force, together with his fellow parliamentarians Gennady and Dmitry Gudkovs and Valery Zubov has created political party “Alliance of Greens and Social-Democrats”. In 2016-2022, after being expelled from Russian Parliament by putinist forces, was involved in investments business in Ukraine. After Putin’s invasion in Ukraine in February 2022, Hon. Ponomarev joined Kyiv’s territorial defense and returned to active politics, calling to replace Vladimir Putin to stop the war.
Ilya Ponomarev is known to be standing on progressive left (socialist) position. He had founded Left Front of Russia in 2004 as a wide leftist coalition. Ponomarev 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.
Geopolitically Ponomarev advocates broader Northern Union between nations of Europe, Americas and former USSR and sharply criticizes the US-centric model of globalization and neoliberalism that is promoted through IMF, WTO and G8 structures. He himself identifies his approach as “social globalism”. He is also skeptical about the Russian model of privatization, and blames its neoliberal architects for failed democracy in Russia.
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, strong federalist model with most tax revenues staying in regions.
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. He is always critical of nationalism and clericalism, although known to maintain good personal relations with their prominent activists.
Hon. Ponomarev has started his political career in the Communist Party of Russia in 2002. In 2003 he joined the Institute of Globalization Studies (IPROG), the main Russian left-wing think tank, as its Member of the Board. He turned IPROG into a main driver for the independent labor unions in Russia, facilitating their consolidation into Confederation of Labor of Russia (KTR), by-now the largest and most influential independent labor union network.
Since 2003 Hon. Ponomarev, being an alterglobalist thinker and activist, is one of key supporters of the Russian branch of World Social Forums movement. IPROG was one of the organizers of two first Russian Social Forums, including the largest-to-day RSF-2006 in S.-Petersburg, linked to the international anti-G8 summit protests.
In 2007 Hon. Ponomarev has joined the newly formed “A Just Russia” political party, which was positioning itself as the new generation social-democratic party and the main opponent of putinist “United Russia”. In the same year he was elected to the State Duma from Novosibirsk, the third-largest city of Russia and the capital of Siberia.
While in Duma, Hon. Ponomarev became one of prominent allies of Pres. Medvedev, and co-authored the strategy to modernize Russia and build an innovative economy, that was presented by Medvedev in 2008. Ilya Ponomarev was the facilitator of creation of network of hi-tech parks across Russia, the main ideologist of Skolkovo project (sometimes referred to as “Russian Silicon Valley”), and was the main driver behind the entry of Massachusetts Technology Institute (MIT) as Skolkovo’s partner.
In December 2012 Ilya Ponomarev was the most vocal critic of Dima Yakovlev Law that was initiated by Putin in retaliation for US Congress’ Magnitsky Act and restricted international adoption of Russian orphans. In 2013 Ponomarev was the only MP that refused to support repressive “gay propaganda” law.
After his lone vote against the annexation of Crimea in 2014, he was blocked outside the country and now lives in exile. In the Fall 2014 Washington Post made a good piece about this story.
While in United States, Hon. Ponomarev was working on projects to achieve energy independence of Eastern Europe, approaching it is a key issue for international security. He assisted US independent gas producers to come and operate in locations like Ukraine, Poland, Romania and others, working closely with the governments of those countries to develop a proper regulatory environment for local E&P activities and increase public awareness. Since 2016 he has established investment company (SPAC) called Trident Acquisitions with headquarters in New York and Kyiv, which went public on NASDAQ in 2018, becoming the first company in Ukraine to be traded in the USA. In 2019 President Poroshenko of Ukraine has granted Ilya Ponomarev Ukrainian citizenship for his importance for foreign investments in the country.
After Putin’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022 Ilya Ponomarev joined Ukraine’s armed territorial defense forces in Kyiv. After first offensive on nation’s capital was defeated, Mr. Ponomarev founded “Utro Fevralya” (“February’s Morning”) – a media holding that includes TV channel and a news agency, that works 24×7 from Ukraine, deliver news in Russian for Russians in Russia, the only of its kind. He also established “Bravery Foundation” which supports Russians that decided to stand against the war and faced oppression and prosecution by the Russian state.
In August 2022 Hon. Ponomarev was selected to be the representative of the armed arm of the Russian opposition by Legion “Free Russia”, which is currently fighting in Ukraine against the invaders, and National Republican Army, one of the most prominent networks of partisan movement inside the Russian Federation.
In November 2022 Ilya Ponomarev has organized Congress of People’s Deputies – the alternative Russian parliament, which is to replace Putin’s system of power of the regime collapse.
Ilya Ponomarev supports Free Russia Foundation – a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental U.S.-based organization, led by Russians abroad that seeks to be a voice for those who can’t speak under the repression of the current Russian leadership. The Foundation represents and coordinates the Russia diaspora in the US and is focused on developing a strategic vision of Russia ‘After Putin’ and ‘Without Putinism’ and concrete program for the transition period.
Ilya Ponomarev is also the member of Permanent Committee of Free Russia Forum – the largest and most well-known nonpartisan cooperation platform for Russian opposition that meet twice a year in Vilnius, Lithuania, to bridge regional opposition leaders with prominent members of political emigres community to develop vision of future Russia development.
He is also involved in a global entrepreneurs’ Silicon Valled-based initiative called Open Source Society. Its grand vision – governance reform to achieve both economic and social freedom, create society of progress, self-governed local communities, participative democracy.
Ilya Ponomarev is a regular speaker at US-based think tanks, like Atlantic Council, CSIS, Heritage Foundation and others, as well as in leading universities. His Jan 2015 presentation at CSIS in Washington turned out to be the most viewed and discussed event in the history of this think tank and triggered argument in the plenary session of State Duma.
Ilya Ponomarev 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. Ilya Ponomarev is the founder of Institute of Siberia – analytical center focused on regional development of this dynamic Russian territory.
In 2010 Ponomarev became co-founder of Korean-Russian Business Council (KRBC) and worked in 2010-2017 as 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. Ilya Ponomarev is the author of the book “Does Putin have to die?”, which contains the program for the transition away from the current authoritarian state in Russia.
You can read more about Ilya Ponomarev at Wikipedia.