United Russia primaries winner accused of fraud
Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) department in the Komi Republic has initiated a check into the winner of the United Russia (Edinaya Rossiya) primaries, a member of the All-Russia People’s Front central headquarters, Olga Savastyanova. The official stands accused of fraud with state property. After the victory in the primaries, Savastyanova is the main contender for the list of party candidates at the upcoming election to the State Duma.
The head of the executive committee of the All-Russia People’s Front republican headquarters Olga Savastyanova may become a defendant in the case. According to Kommersant, which quoted sources close to Savastyanova, she was questioned by the FSB. The reason for that was the report received by the law enforcement agencies (no information about the sender provided). The document states that being a member of the State Council in the Komi Republic in 2008, Savastyanova allegedly received an apartment in Syktyvkar worth more than 6 million rubles. The lawmaker fictitiously registered her two relatives and a little grandson into a service apartment, to make it look like she needed better housing conditions. Then, she illegally registered state housing as personal.
If an inspection confirms these allegations, the parliament member will become a defendant in a criminal case, charged with fraud and illegal privatization of a service apartment (art. 159 para. 4 of the Russian Criminal Code).
Moreover, her claim for the candidacy to the State Duma for the winning place will be questioned. On May 22, 2016, she won the United Russia primaries in the Komi Republic, beating multiple rivals, among them, former Prosecutor of the Republic, a State Duma member Vladimir Ponevezhsky.
It is worth noting that during the primaries, a support group of other candidates asked Olga Savastyanova about her place of residence and place of registration. At that time, the candidate said that she had been living in Moscow for the last two years, because she had previously worked in the central and then Moscow executive committees of the All-Russia People’s Front. However, she and her family are registered in Komi. Olga Savastyanova herself currently refuses to communicate with journalists and does not comment on the situation. The election headquarters of the leader of the primaries said that Savastyanova had not been arrested and continued to work. The Komi prosecutor's office does not comment on the situation either.
Meanwhile, the press service of the All-Russia People’s Front stated that they had not received any formal complaints against Savastyanova’s actions. The organization representatives added that they still hoped that United Russia would nominate Savastyanova as a candidate, for her victory in the primaries, at the party congress. The source, quoted by Kommersant, believes that the allegations of fraud against Savastyanova are an attempt of the former Komi government to use their connections in law enforcement and influence the contender before the party congress.
According to the Secretary of the United Russia General Council Sergey Neverov, they have not received any complaints from the law enforcement agencies against Savastyanova. Neverov noted that the United Russia takes measures against those who discredit the party only if the charges are justified and announced publicly.
As a reminder, in 2015, the former head of the republic Vyacheslav Gaizer and a group of officials were arrested on charges of organizing a criminal group. This was the first case in the history of Russia, when the governor was declared a ringleader of the gang. The accused currently remain in custody.
According to the Russian MIA’s spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, the detention of Russian woman Maria Butina in the US was specifically timed to coincide with the summit of Putin and Trump in order to minimize the effect of the presidents’ meeting.