United Russia Deputies Resign from Business Positions
United Russia deputies are resigning from management positions in commercial companies and amending their declarations, A Just Russia deputy Dmitry Gudkov said. This follows a scandal and a Kremlin order to investigate all cases of deputies’ involvement in business. United Russia members refute the allegation that they are trying to cover their tracks.
Dmitry Gudkov claims that Alexei Knyshov (United Russia) did not include in his declaration before the 2011 elections that he is a co-founder and manager of Slovak company Inbister. On August 30, Knyshov told Kommersant that he had filed his resignation six months before, but Gudkov claims that he resigned much later, leaving behind a long trail in the process. “The commercial register of Slovakia’s Justice Ministry now contains an entry stating that he was the company’s co-founder and manager until August 30, 2012,” Gudkov said.
Knyshov argues that Gudkov is citing unofficial information and that he would forward the necessary documents to the commission in charge of monitoring deputies’ declarations as soon as he receives them from Slovakia. Knyshov is one of the six United Russia deputies about whom documents have been sent to the commission at the request of Sergei Mironov, head of A Just Russia in parliament.
Airat Khairullin, another United Russia member and first deputy chairman of the agrarian committee, who has been a member of parliament since 2003, indicated in his 2011 declaration that he owns stakes in 43 companies. However, his July 2012 declaration puts the number at 80. Gudkov claims that some of these companies were established after Khairullin was elected deputy. Khairullin argues that in 2003 he gave his elder brother power of attorney to manage his assets and establish new firms.
Similar revelations have had no effect on Vladimir Pekhtin, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Ethics, who owns a plot of land in St. Petersburg where he plans to recreate “his ancestral estate.” However, there is a ban on building residential buildings on the disputed site, where a road is to be built. A scandal broke out after Pekhtin asked the local authorities to rezone the plot to allow him to build houses there.
The authorities initiated a public hearing, and the opposition subsequently denounced the deputy’s actions as “part of a camouflaged commercial plan” that would allow him to resell the land plot at a profit to the state to build a road for as much as 75 million rubles ($2.5 million). A new hearing has been set for September 24 at Pekhtin’s request. He was not available for comment.
On September 14, A Just Russia member Gennady Gudkov was stripped of his powers as a deputy for his business involvement. The Kremlin and United Russia said that other United Rusiia party members may have to answer for their actions too. Nearly half of respondents in a recent Levada poll are skeptical about business and 38% are convinced that Russian businesses are detrimental to the country.
Patriarch Kirill Writes a Book about Putin's Favorite Sport
The Japanese edition of the book The Eternal Fight on the martial arts of Sambo and Judo was presented recently in Tokyo. One of the book’s authors is the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, who is currently on a pastoral visit to Orthodox parishes in Japan.
The book consists of conversations between His Holiness and Anatoly Khlopetsky, a renowned martial arts expert. The text is punctuated with inserts from the Patriarch’s thoughts about Saint Nicholas of Japan, who was the spiritual mentor of Sambo inventor Vasily Oshchepkov.
Khlopetsky said that he met with Kirill in Kaliningrad when he was still Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.
“I was a coach, and I agonized over the issue of how to get my wards take responsibility for their skills,” Khlopetsky said. “The most obvious things – the kids enjoy the martial arts, but how will they behave outside of the gym?”
Khlopetsky and the Patriarch have discussed ways to teach Orthodox values to young people. The book creates an image of a fighter who is adept at very dangerous fighting techniques, Khlopetsky said.
“The book is a result of our martial arts and his [the Patriarch’s] victory,” said Khlopetsky.
This project might well have not been realized – the Patriarch had long refused Khlopetsky’s proposals. However, the persistent coach persuaded His Holiness.
In his ruminations, Patriarch Kirill pointed out that the word “freedom” is inseparable from the word “responsibility.”
“The book is about freedom and responsibility – in order to show that one word cannot be used without the other,” the Patriarch emphasized. “We cannot juggle such concepts as ‘freedom’ and ‘human rights.’’
The Patriarch is convinced that these concepts become great values only if a person uses them in a “morally responsible manner.”
The entire print run of the book is a charitable gift to the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church, and the proceeds from its sale will be directed to the restoration of Orthodox churches destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Political Prisoners Start Doing Hard Time in Pre-Trial Prisons
Human rights activists have warned that the three Pussy Riot members may be in danger once transferred to a women’s prison away from Moscow. Another political prisoner, Vladimir Akimenkov, has nearly gone blind in jail.
On October 1, the day the Moscow City Court is due to rule on the legitimacy of their two-year sentence for hooliganism, supporters of Russian punk band Pussy Riot will hold solidarity events around the world, their lawyer Mark Feigin said. He said Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina have asked permission to serve their sentence at their pre-trial prison in Moscow rather than be sent away to one of Russia’s notorious female prisons.
Analysts believe they may be in danger once they are transported away from Moscow. Another reason for their request is that it would be easier to get released on parole.
Given the unpredictable nature of Russian justice and the undeniable political coloring of their case, it is difficult to say if their request is likely to be granted or if they will actually be sent to a real prison. It is even possible they could obtain an annulment of the verdict, NG sources believe.
The only penitentiary institutions in Moscow are pre-trial detention centers; the nearest women’s prison is in Mozhaisk some 60 miles west of Moscow, which is a former prisoner of war camp for German women. Human rights champion Eduard Rudyk described it is a “model prison,” clean and offering creative activities. However, its cleanliness is largely the result of the inmates’ constant efforts supervised by their wardens.
The three convicted women will not be sent to the same prison though. Another prison where Moscow convicts often end up is in Mordovia, where conditions are “good enough” now, Rudyk said.
They may be sent to the Ivanovo, Vladimir or Tver regions. “This last one is rumored to be the most dreadful,” he added.
Although the case is being closely monitored by Russian and foreign media, the three women are unlikely to be safe anywhere. “The prison administration can easily set other convicts against them,” Rudyk warned. Moreover, prisons are centers of TB, HIV, Hepatitis C, scabies and lice epidemics, while medical assistance is poor and largely unavailable.
Vladimir Akimenkov, 25, a convicted activist of the Bolotnaya Square rallies, has practically lost his eyesight in a detention prison, say human rights activists. “One of his eyes can see the top line on the chart, the other can’t see anything at all,” said Anna Karetnikova, deputy head of a Moscow public commission which monitors the conditions of detainees in custody. He has applied for a physical examination at a special prison hospital in Moscow, but he may have to wait months for it. He is seriously worried about going completely blind, Karetnikova said.
Rudyk recalled another flagrant case, of HIV-infected convict Alexei Medvedev, 42, who killed himself by slashing his stomach in protest at being denied medical assistance in prison.
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