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Lawyers Spar Over Shuvalov Business Links
Irina Filatova, Anatoly Medetsky - Moscow Times - themoscowtimes.com - 3.30.12 - JRL 2012-59

A U.S.-based Russian lawyer suspected of spilling the beans about First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov's links to business stopped short of taking credit Thursday, but said the revelations could help fight corruption in the country.

Igor Shuvalov File Photo
file photo
Shuvalov has denied any wrongdoing, but the spotlight on the personal wealth of President-elect Vladimir Putin's close lieutenant is threatening to leave another scratch on Putin's Teflon coating.

Pavel Ivlev, the lawyer who helped Shuvalov's family make lucrative investments at home and abroad in the early 2000s, is vehemently anti-Putin and has ties with the Russian political opposition. He said in a statement that "even if the assumption ... that I provided the information" is true, he did not violate the attorney-client privilege.

Late Wednesday, Ivlev's colleague at the time, Artyom Dymskoi, accused him of divulging details about the deals and said he would seek his expulsion from the Russian bar.

The story that Shuvalov's family made money in cahoots with the country's big-time businessmen first broke in December, days before the State Duma elections. It came to light again, in an expanded form, in a country rattled by large election-related street protests and discontent with Putin.

Specifics about the transactions that made the Shuvalovs rich - published simultaneously by The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times on Wednesday - suggested that the official could have had a serious conflict of interest while serving the public.

"I think nobody, including Igor Shuvalov, will argue about the considerable hurdles for executing justice in today's Russia, especially in cases of corruption in the higher echelons of power," Ivlev said in a statement Thursday. "I hope that a public discussion by the news media of the income sources of a high-placed state official - a first deputy prime minister of the country, will facilitate stronger rule of law in Russia."

Ivlev, who lives in Sparta, New Jersey, joined the Institute of Modern Russia that was established in that city in February 2010 to "support democratic values and institutions" in Russia. The institute's founder is the former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky's son, Pavel, who urged Russians in a recent U.S. television show to vote for any of Putin's opponents in the March 4 presidential election.

Prosecutors incriminated Ivlev, a longtime legal counsel of Yukos, in the tax-arrears case against the oil company and he fled Russia for New York in 2004 in what he described as "fear of unjust prosecution." Whistle-blower and opposition activist Alexei Navalny has agreed to help defend Ivlev in the case.

The media exposé of Shuvalov's finances could hurt Putin, said Christopher Granville, managing director at Trusted Sources, a London-based research company that focuses on Russia and other emerging markets.

"The goal of these revelations might be to intensify the shadow of corruption around Putin himself by suggesting that one of the senior officials who is closely associated with him acted improperly," he said by telephone.