Fraudster with criminal record appointed head of Taganrog election committee

 Fraudster with criminal record appointed head of Taganrog election committee
Andrey Pankov

Andrey Pankov resigned four days after his appointment due to reports about his criminal record.

The Head of the election committee of Taganrog, Rostov region, Andrey Pankov, resigned four days after his appointment because of reports about his convictions, Kommersant reports. Pankov was convicted twice of Swindling (Art. 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). In September, Taganrog is to hold elections to the city duma. Representatives of the opposition consider the city "the most problematic spot for the authorities" and claim that Pankov was put forward as a person who "is ready to break his back." The ex-Head of the election committee himself said that he was ready to hold elections honestly.

Andrey Pankov, the CEO of Zhemchuzhina Priazovya (Pearl of Priazovye) fishing company, was appointed Head of the territorial election commission (TEC) of Taganrog on April 4. His candidacy was proposed by the Civic Platform party. Immediately after the appointment, local media and bloggers reported that Pankov had been convicted twice of Swindling (Art. 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). In January 2016, a court of Neklinovsky district of the Rostov region adjacent to Taganrog sentenced him to three years' suspended imprisonment for helping a friend to steal and sign over to himself a land plot of 10 thousand square meters worth more than 7.3 million rubles ($112.8 thousand), when being the Director of a district Technical Inventory Bureau. In October 2016, when the first suspended sentence did not finish, he was sentenced to another two years' suspended imprisonment for fictitious employment of an employee in the Technical Inventory Bureau. In addition, the entrepreneur was involved in a criminal case on the theft of agricultural land worth more than 830 million rubles ($12.8 m) in the suburbs of Taganrog.

Initially, Pankov was the defendant in the case, however he agreed to cooperate with the investigation and received the status of a witness.

All these data were published by the local media, as soon as Pankov was appointed with TIK, however he stated he had his convictions expunged and it had nothing in common with his current activity. “You know how it goes with criminal cases in Russia. If they are received by court, you won’t go scot-free. All these bloggers who write about me in a negative way don’t know the details; they never asked me anything,” the businessman stated and promised to carry out the elections “honestly, transparently and legally.” Nevertheless, soon after, Pankov stated he applied his dismissal request and sent it to head of the regional electoral commission Andrey Burov.

Taganrog is known as one of the most remonstrative municipalities in Rostov region. During the last year’s elections to the regional Duma, the turnout was 20 per cent, but it exceeded 4 per cent in the region. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation received the majority of votes. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia was ranked 2nd. With that, the current convocation of Duma elected in 2014 comprises of members of The United Russia party exclusively, as well as self-nominated candidates. Source of Kommersant within Taganrog’s city administration reported he’s unhappy about the fact that Pankov stood down. “Pankov has experience at elections. In 2017, he became the head of Neklinovsky district’s TIK. The turnout during these elections was always high.” Head of the regional branch of The Civilian platform Anastasia Trofimova could not recall why the party had offered Pankov.

Evgenia Orlova, a member of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation who supervises Rostov region, stated the appointment had not been coordinated with her.

The opposition believes that the authorities needed Pankov as a person who’s ready to break his back. Leader of Rostov-on-Don’s department of The Fair Russia and member of the State Duma Mikhail Emelianov called Taganrog “the most problem-plagues spot” for the authorities during September elections, due to the fact that the opposition is strong over there and they “can not falsify.” “It looks like they were looking for the one who can,” Emelianov believes.  

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