What did novice Deputies give up for chairs in State Duma?
The 7th Convocation of the State Duma of the Russian Federation started its work on October 5, 2016. Almost half of the Deputies – 219 out of 449 – are first-timers. Edinaya Rossia (the United Russia) Party, which has got a record number of chairs – 343 – at the September elections, has 123 novices in its parliamentary caucus. Who are these new parliamentarians? What did they give up for lawmaking?
In total, 61 persons came to the Duma from business. According to RBC Information Systems, their operations were mostly related to real estate. 30 new Deputies had to abandon this sphere of commerce. For example, Andrey Palkin, a businessman from the town of Kotlas of the Arkhangelsk region and a newly-elected Deputy representing Edinaya Rossia (the United Russia) Party, used to run a real estate business. He owns eight companies specializing in residential and road construction. With an income of almost 1.5 billion rubles for the year of 2015, he is the wealthiest new parliamentarian. His assets include 56 apartments in the Arkhangelsk region, 3 apartments in the Moscow region, and 200 vehicles.
Photo: Andrey Palkin, the wealthiest new Deputy
Palkin is the only newbie in the richest top five in the Parliament; he managed to surpass such financial behemoths of the State Duma as Leonid Simanovsky (909 million rubles), Nikolai Bortsov (799 million rubles), Aleksander Starobogat’ko (745 million rubles), and Grirory Anikeev (600 million rubles).
Three more new Deputies are inside the wealthiest top twenty; two of them represent Edinaya Rossia.
For instance, Dmitry Skrivanov from Perm (464 million rubles) also has to abandon his business. In 2000, he became the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Molkombinat Kungursky Open Joint Stock Company, which was sold to Wimm Bill Dann in 2011. In 2014, Skrivanov entered media business in Perm: he purchased ActivMedia Limited Liability Company – the publisher of V Kurse (Au courant) and Permskaya Tribuna (Perm Tribune) newspapers. At the same time, he was appointed to supervise the launch of a federal non-commercial organization Fund for Single-Industry Towns Development. In addition, since 2000, Skrivanov had been a member of the Legislative Assembly in the Perm Region.
Vladimir Zhutenkov, who had started his career as a turner at the Bryansk Mechanical Engineering Plant, has become the Head of Tamosh’ Meat Processing Plant in 1993. In 2008, he became the manager of the enterprise. In 2015, Tamosh’ Meat Processing Plant merged with Druzhba (Friendship) and Druzhba-2 limited liability companies, thus, forming Okhotno agroindustrial complex specializing in crop farming, compound animal feeding stuff; pig farming, meat processing, and diary production. The income of Zhutenkov for the year of 2015 was 161.8 million rubles. According to Forbes, he owns a grain warehouse with the total area over 2 thousand square meters. Shortly before the September elections, the home of Zhutenkov was robbed, and he lost 2 million rubles, €15 thousand, jewelry, and a Volkswagen Touareg. Prior to the State Duma, he used to be a Deputy of the Bryansk Regional Duma.
The only representative of other parties inside the wealthiest top twenty is Communist Vladimir Blotsky from Klin. He has earned 329.6 million rubles in 2015 and has 729 million rubles on bank accounts. He owns 2 cars (Porsche Panamera 4s and Porsche Cayenne Diesel), five apartments in Moscow, and eight land lots with the total area over 8 thousand square meters. He also came to politics from business: before the election, Blotsky was the Head of the Murmansk Trawler Fleet. In 2016, the businessman became a member of the Council for Agroindustrial Complex and Nature Use of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
It cannot be ruled out that some new Deputies have not been included into the top twenty unjustly: 12 persons did not provide income in their declarations. Overall, the majority of Deputies owning shares in various companies – 62 parliamentarians – represent Edinaya Rossia. The parliamentary caucus of Spavedlivaya Rossia (the Just Russia) Party has the largest share of businessmen – 26%. The average income of a Deputy of the 7th Convocation for the year of 2015 was 16 million rubles.
Change of chairs
Many newly-elected Deputies had to give-up something more important than business – their customary governmental posts.
For instance, Gennady Onishenko, the former Chief Sanitary Inspector, has transferred to the State Duma. He was the Head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare in the period of 1996–2013 and then an Aide to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The most important initiative by Onishenko was his requirement to strengthen the state control over beer production and advertisement in 2000. It was him who banned import of Georgian wines, Belorussian milk and Egyptian vegetables to Russia.
Natalia Poklonskaya had to give up not only a place in the Crimean sun, but also Prosecutor’s strips. At the first session of the new State Duma, it was decided to appoint the 36-year-old newly-elected lawmaker the Chairperson of the Commission on Control over Reliability of Data on Incomes of Deputies. The Commission shall collect Deputies’ income declarations and verify the information provided. She also became the Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Security.
Artur Chilingarov, another member of Edinaya Rossia, has transferred from the Council of Federation. The famous 77-year-old polar explorer intends to establish a special commission for the Arctic and Antarctic regions in the State Duma. It is difficult to call him a novice though – before his senatorship, he used to work in the State Duma for 18 years – since 1993 and until 2011. His income for the last year was 104.9 million rubles. He owns two apartments in Moscow, two land lots, and a utility terrain vehicle.
Photo: Vyacheslav Volodin, the new Speaker of the State Duma
But the most surprising transfer has been demonstrated by Vyacheslav Volodin. The former First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration of Russia became the Speaker of the State Duma. The reasons behind his departure from the Kremlin are unknown. He used to be the wealthiest functionary in the Presidential Administration with an income of 87 million rubles in the year of 2015 (mostly dividends from bank deposits and securities). According to RBC Information Systems, out of this amount, he has spent 40 million rubles on charities.
In total, there are 14 former Mayors and 8 ex-Senators in the State Duma.
One Deputy has come to the Duma almost straight from school: Vasily Vlasov is 21 year old, he is a student of the Moscow State Pedagogical University. Vlasov is the Leader of the All-Russia Youth Organization of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia. As of 2015, there was 51 ruble on his bank account.
Some Russian stars have also joined the ranks of parliamentarians. For example, Oksana Pushkina, a famous TV anchor, who also used to be an official for some time: since 2015 she was the Commissioner for Children’s Rights of the Moscow Region. Earlier she became famous with her TV shows Zhenskiy Vzglyad Oksany Pushkinoy (Woman’s Look of Oksana Pushkina), Ya Podayu na Razvod (I File for Divorce), Zerkalo dlya Geroya (Mirror for a Hero), etc.
Photo: TV anchor Oksana Pushkina
Another TV star – Petr Tolstoy – is known as anchor of such TV shows as Skandaly Nedeli (Scandals of the Week), Voskesnoe Vremya (Sunday Time), and Vyvody (Conclusions). Since February 2016, he is a member of the Superior Council of Edinaya Rossia (the United Russia) Party.
Journalist Elena Yampolskaya became the Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Nationalities in the State Duma. Being the editor of Kultura (Culture) newspaper since 2011, she became famous for her support of Stalin.
Other stars of the State Duma are: TV anchor Evgeny Revenko, actress Anna Snatkina, and producer Yuri Kara. Famous actor Mikhail Boyarsky is not a Deputy, but his son Sergey is.
We would like to remind that many famous personalities used to be Deputies of the State Duma in different periods: singer Iosif Kobzon, producers Vladimir Bortko and Stanislav Govorukhin, athletes Irina Rodnina and Nikolai Valuev, etc.
Several Deputies of the new Duma are in trouble with the law. For instance, a criminal case was initiated in 2014 against Vladimir Zhutenkov, one of the twenty richest Deputies. In September 2013, he lost control of his car and collided with VAZ-217230. A 33-year-old pregnant female passenger of the VAZ was injured and lost her unborn child. Neither the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation nor local media ever reported any investigation results for that criminal case.
Photo: Deputy Vladimir Zhutenkov
The parliamentary caucus of Edinaya Rossia includes independent Deputy Vladislav Reznik. He has earlier lost his membership in the party because his name was mentioned in relation to the Spanish case. In 2016, Madrid had submitted an application to Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant against Reznik. He was suspected of links with the Russian mafia and laundering of €62 million via Spanish real estate and banks. However, in May the request from the Spanish authorities was cancelled. Reznik is not a novice in the State Duma – he was a Deputy of its four previous Convocations (since 1999).
Andrey Lugovoy (Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia) has also become famous due to an international scandal. In 2007, the UK requested to extradite the future Deputy on suspicion of the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-Colonel of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, at the order of Russian special services. At that time, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia, invited him to the party – although Lugovoy claimed that he had joined the party “ not for Deputy immunity”. In addition to the British episode, there was also a Russian one in the biography of Lugovoy. In 2004, he was sentenced to a year and two months behind bars in the framework of the Aeroflot case – together with two other company employees, Lugovoy attempted to arrange escape of Nikolai Glushkov, the First Deputy for the General Director of Aeroflot, accused of embezzlement and money laundering. In the new Duma, Lugovoy will be the First Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Security.
In addition to Lugovoy, there is another Deputy with a spent conviction in the new State Duma. Pavel Dorokhin (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) was convicted in 1999 under Article 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation, or bearing of firearms, its basic parts, ammunition, explosives, and explosive devices). At that time, the Communists stated that it was a frame-up, while in 2000, an amnesty was announced in celebration of the 65th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.
In total, there were 55 parliamentary candidates having troubles with the law in the past. 58 more candidates had been excluded from party lists prior to the elections for concealing their criminal records.
The State Duma member is not happy about the fact that the budget surpluses that rolled in as a result of additional income following the oil and gas sales are being forwarded to the Russian National Wealth Fund.