The chairman of Russia’s ruling party United Russia has unexpectedly given up his seat in Parliament, the New York Times reports. Until today, Boris V. Gryzlov was the speaker of the lower house and commonly viewed as President Valdimir Putin’s right-hand man. He is considered the highest ranking official within the party after Putin. Gryzlov’s resignation comes after tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Moscow to protest against what they believe were election results doctored to keep United Russia in power. In a statement on his website, Gryslov wrote that it would be “inappropriate to remain speaker of the chamber for more than two years in a row.” Although he is giving up his role as speaker, he will remain chairman of the party.