MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) - The campaign headquarters of opposition Moscow mayoral candidate Alexei Navalny sent requests to tax bodies in Montenegro on Friday asking to provide documentation regarding the candidate’s alleged co-ownership of a company in the Balkan state, an allegation that Navalny has denied.
Navalny's campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, wrote in his LiveJournal blog on Friday that “probably the company exists,” but “obviously Navalny does not know anything about it” and the relevant requests were sent to Montenegro with the aim of establishing “what were the exact documents that led to the registration of the company.”
Russia’s Prime news agency on Thursday night received an official statement from the tax authorities of Montenegro confirming earlier media reports that Navalny was a co-founder of the MRD Company, registered in the Balkan country on November 20, 2007.
The statement also declined that the registration entry appeared as a result of a recent hacker attack, a claim voiced earlier by Volkov. Earlier this month, Russian bloggers circulated information that Navalny co-owned a company in Montenegro. Navalny denied that information in a Twitter post.
According to a recently introduced law, Russian officials are prohibited from having non-real-estate assets abroad, but Valentin Gorbunov, chief of the Moscow Election Committee, said the law did not prohibit running a business abroad.
“Navalny stated that he had neither [foreign] banking accounts … nor property,” Gorbunov said Thursday. “There is no direct ban on having a business [abroad].”
As the September Moscow mayoral election draws closer, anti-corruption activist Navalny is increasingly often finding himself at the center of various investigations and public discussions.
He was convicted in July of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in a penal colony, but in a surprise move, prosecutors then filed a request for him to be released from custody pending appeal.
In addition to the embezzlement case, investigators have opened three other criminal cases against Navalny, on charges of embezzlement from a political party, deceiving an international cosmetics company, and illegally conspiring to privatize a distillery in central Russia.