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Wednesday, December 26, 2012
From Print Edition
 
 

 

MOSCOW: Russian investigators on Tuesday accused two opposition lawmakers of fraud and asked for their parliamentary immunity to be removed, the latest move in a broad anti-corruption campaign.

 

The Investigative Committee — which has led the Kremlin-backed anti-corruption drive — said it had found evidence to implicate the two State Duma deputies in two separate fraud scams.

 

According to investigators, Konstantin Shirshov of the Communist Party participated in a fraud plot with several other people in 2011, which consisted of defrauding an unidentified businessman of 7.5 million euros ($9.89 million).

 

Shirshov was paid 66 million rubles ($2.16 million) for his promise to grant the businessman a seat in the parliament prior to elections last December, it said.

 

Separately, Oleg Mikheyev of the Just Russia party was also implicated in fraud, investigators found out while probing “illegal seizing of 14 buildings” worth 500 million rubles ($16 million), which belonged to a factory in Volgograd.

 

Furthermore, Mikheyev is suspected of attempting to steal 2.1 billion rubles ($70 million) from Russian bank Promsvyazbank, the statement said. “The Investigative Committee sent the necessary documents to the Prosecutor General... to remove their immunity and approve calling them to account,” it said.

 

Both deputies have been parliament members since 2007. Mikheyev represents the Volgograd region, while Shirshov is a Communist from Krasnodar region. In September, the parliament stripped Gennady Gudkov, one of its most vehemently anti-Vladimir Putin members, of his mandate over his alleged conflicting business interests.

 

Although investigators said they were checking whether he broke the law, no criminal probe had been launched. The highest-profile casualty of the anti-corruption drive among the elite was former defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov who lost his job after investigators uncovered fraud in his ministry’s property operations.