JRL HOME - RSS - FB - Tw - Support

Closing in on Gudkov
The targeting of the oppositionist politician is the result of 'selective law enforcement'
Anna Arutunyan - Moscow News - themoscownews.com - 9.10.12 - JRL 2012-163

Until this week, Gennady Gudkov, a deputy with the Just Russia party, was the one oppositionist leader with a modicum of power: parliamentary immunity.

Gennady Gudkov file photo
file photo
But with a formal vote in the State Duma on whether Gudkov will lose his status as deputy expected on Friday, he now fears arrest.

On Monday, a Duma committee on deputies' incomes ruled that reports from an Investigative Committee inquiry into Gudkov's business dealings were enough to strip him of his mandate. If Gudkov is kicked out of the Duma, he will be the first deputy to lose his mandate since Sergei Mavrodi, founder of the MMM financial pyramid, who lost his status in 1995 as a result of a criminal investigation.

Gudkov ­ and party leader Sergei Mironov ­ insist the pressure is the result of a political order from the Kremlin. Mironov said Monday he was trying to reach President Vladimir Putin to discuss the proceedings against Gudkov, Gazeta.ru reported.

According to Gudkov, other oppositionists, including fellow Just Russia deputies Ilya Ponomaryov and Dmitry Gudkov (Gudkov's son) could also be on their way out.

"I have information that [the arrests] were considered at meetings in the Kremlin with members of the siloviki and [deputy head of the presidential administration Vyacheslav] Volodin."

Gudkov, a well-connected former KGB officer, emerged as one of the most vocal figures in the political establishment, becoming a fixture at the mass protest rallies demanding free elections.

As a parliamentarian and a member of the Duma Security Committee, he held clout not just because he could not be arrested, but also because he could negotiate with the police during protests.

But like many former officers, Gudkov also held a stake in a private security agency ­ and with pressure from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party mounting, police raided several of his agencies in May. When Gudkov complained about the raids, United Russia retaliated by saying that as a Duma member, he wasn't eligible to run a business anyway.

In August, the Investigative Committee sent documents to the Duma and the Prosecutor General's Office suggesting that Gudkov was violating the Duma's ethics norms by running a business. These were not criminal charges, but they did raise the question of stripping Gudkov of his immunity.

Just Russia retaliated by asking for inquiries against six United Russia members over possible illegal entrepreneurship.

In his own case, Gudkov insists there is no conflict of interest, citing a Constitutional Court ruling that states that being a shareholder does not amount to entrepreneurship.

"Of course I am a shareholder," he said. "No one is denying that. The company has its own directors, I'm not managing it. They're playing on inconsistencies within Russia's law."

According to Gudkov, they were also rushing to strip him of his mandate in order to have the option of arresting him at the Sept. 15 March of Millions.

"Over these last two days, officers from the FSB, the Prosecutor's Office and the Investigative Committee were running around talking to my former aides and trying to get evidence," Gudkov said. "One of [the people questioned] started having heart trouble as a result."

Opposition activists are in a stalemate with City Hall over where to hold the march. City Hall offered the embankment running north from Luzhniki Stadium, but organizers insist on a venue within the Garden Ring.

Pressure against oppositionists and last month's two-year sentence handed down to three members of the Pussy Riot group is expected to radicalize the protest movement.

Gudkov says he's bracing for something similar to the 1937 purges, but other observers disagree.

"This is not 1937, it's a completely new approach ­ it is selective," said former FSB officer Kirill Kabanov, head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee and a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council.

"If he indeed had business [dealings], he must have known what the consequences were," Kabanov said. "It was a mistake to publically complain about checks against his companies. But the kind of selective law enforcement [that Gudkov is facing] is dangerous and wrong."

Keywords: Russia, Government, Politics - Russian News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

 

Until this week, Gennady Gudkov, a deputy with the Just Russia party, was the one oppositionist leader with a modicum of power: parliamentary immunity.

Gennady Gudkov file photo
file photo
But with a formal vote in the State Duma on whether Gudkov will lose his status as deputy expected on Friday, he now fears arrest.

On Monday, a Duma committee on deputies' incomes ruled that reports from an Investigative Committee inquiry into Gudkov's business dealings were enough to strip him of his mandate. If Gudkov is kicked out of the Duma, he will be the first deputy to lose his mandate since Sergei Mavrodi, founder of the MMM financial pyramid, who lost his status in 1995 as a result of a criminal investigation.

Gudkov ­ and party leader Sergei Mironov ­ insist the pressure is the result of a political order from the Kremlin. Mironov said Monday he was trying to reach President Vladimir Putin to discuss the proceedings against Gudkov, Gazeta.ru reported.

According to Gudkov, other oppositionists, including fellow Just Russia deputies Ilya Ponomaryov and Dmitry Gudkov (Gudkov's son) could also be on their way out.

"I have information that [the arrests] were considered at meetings in the Kremlin with members of the siloviki and [deputy head of the presidential administration Vyacheslav] Volodin."

Gudkov, a well-connected former KGB officer, emerged as one of the most vocal figures in the political establishment, becoming a fixture at the mass protest rallies demanding free elections.

As a parliamentarian and a member of the Duma Security Committee, he held clout not just because he could not be arrested, but also because he could negotiate with the police during protests.

But like many former officers, Gudkov also held a stake in a private security agency ­ and with pressure from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party mounting, police raided several of his agencies in May. When Gudkov complained about the raids, United Russia retaliated by saying that as a Duma member, he wasn't eligible to run a business anyway.

In August, the Investigative Committee sent documents to the Duma and the Prosecutor General's Office suggesting that Gudkov was violating the Duma's ethics norms by running a business. These were not criminal charges, but they did raise the question of stripping Gudkov of his immunity.

Just Russia retaliated by asking for inquiries against six United Russia members over possible illegal entrepreneurship.

In his own case, Gudkov insists there is no conflict of interest, citing a Constitutional Court ruling that states that being a shareholder does not amount to entrepreneurship.

"Of course I am a shareholder," he said. "No one is denying that. The company has its own directors, I'm not managing it. They're playing on inconsistencies within Russia's law."

According to Gudkov, they were also rushing to strip him of his mandate in order to have the option of arresting him at the Sept. 15 March of Millions.

"Over these last two days, officers from the FSB, the Prosecutor's Office and the Investigative Committee were running around talking to my former aides and trying to get evidence," Gudkov said. "One of [the people questioned] started having heart trouble as a result."

Opposition activists are in a stalemate with City Hall over where to hold the march. City Hall offered the embankment running north from Luzhniki Stadium, but organizers insist on a venue within the Garden Ring.

Pressure against oppositionists and last month's two-year sentence handed down to three members of the Pussy Riot group is expected to radicalize the protest movement.

Gudkov says he's bracing for something similar to the 1937 purges, but other observers disagree.

"This is not 1937, it's a completely new approach ­ it is selective," said former FSB officer Kirill Kabanov, head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee and a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council.

"If he indeed had business [dealings], he must have known what the consequences were," Kabanov said. "It was a mistake to publically complain about checks against his companies. But the kind of selective law enforcement [that Gudkov is facing] is dangerous and wrong."


Top - New - JRL - RSS - FB - Tw - Support