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Communist faction in Duma to vote for stripping its member of immunity

February 11, 2013, 23:46 UTC+3
Investigators claim that Shirshov was also involved in claiming 7.5 million euro for an MP’s mandate
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MOSCOW, February 11 (Itar-Tass) – The Communist Party’s faction in the State Duma decided at its meeting on Monday, February 11, to vote for stripping its member Konstantin Shirshov of parliamentary immunity.  

Vadim Solovyov, the party’s chief attorney, told Itar-Tass that “there was a large-scale provocation” staged against Shirshov.

“We think that truth must be established in this situation by carrying out a thorough and objective investigation without taking advantage of the MP’s benefits or advantages,” he said.

Solovyov noted that Shirshov had submitted a petition requesting that his parliamentary immunity be lifted. “The party supports this,” he added.

MP Sergei Reshulsky said Shirshov may “raise the question of doing this without discussion” at the State Duma. “We are all interested in a thorough and proper investigation of this case and all of its details,” Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said.

Zyuganov does not rule out that “there may be a big provocation behind the so-called Shirshov case”.

“Eighteen months ago, when I was told that representatives of two factions were allegedly selling spots in United Russia, I said it was either nonsense or some top-level authorities were involved,” Zyuganov said.

He asked Boris Gryzlov, who was Duma speaker at that time, to look into this but “having looked [into it], they put it aside and said ‘there is nothing to it’, and now, eighteen months on, they get it out again.”

“This story needs to be investigated to the end. We asked our lawyers to sort it out,” Zyuganov said and made an assumption that “this provocation will lead to very high places”.

The Communist Party’s faction in the Duma confirmed to Itar-Tass that its members would vote on February 13 to strip Shirshov of his parliamentary immunity as per his own request.

On January 23, the Duma received Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika’s request for stripping Shirshov of his immunity.

According to the materials the Prosecutor General’s Office received from the Investigation Committee, “Shirshov may be involved in a crime punishable under Article 30(3) and Article 159(4) of the Russian Criminal Code (unlawful attempt to take possession of other people’s property on a large scale, undertaken by a group of persons by preliminary agreement).”

Investigators claim that Shirshov was also involved in claiming 7.5 million euro for an MP’s mandate, the spokesperson for the Prosecutor General’s Office, Marina Gridneva, said.

Vladimir Yudin, head of a department within the Prosecutor General’s Office, said at a meeting of the Duma Rules Committee on January 25 that the case in which Shirshov was incriminated had been opened on July 8, 2011. The MP’s aides Myasin and Karagod are already facing penalties in the same case, he added.

“The crime boils down to the fact that the MP’s aides, together with Shirshov, had preliminary talks with Chernikov with the aim of getting money in a fraudulent way for having ostensibly been able to include him in the [United Russia party] list of the 6th Duma,” Yudin said.

After that Chernikov met with Myasuin and Karagod several times, and “the money changed hands at the National Hotel.” The transfer of the money in a hotel room was recorded by a video camera, Shirshov and the other persons who were with him were detained, the money was seized,” Yudin said.

He stressed that “Shirshov’s remarks are recorded in the video, and there is a recorded conversation between Myasin and Shirshov, who were discussing a meeting with Chernikov and the transfer of the money.”

According to Yudin, Karagod and Myasin cooperated with the investigation and “gave detailed testimony regarding the circumstances of the arrangement”, including the fact that “the amount of money was specified for their services as well.”

The verdict to Myasin and Karagod has already become effective and the issue at hand is to bring Shirshov to account. “Since the case has already been opened, we are raising the question of obtaining your consent for stripping him of his immunity,” Yudin said.

Shirshov flatly denied all charges.

Meanwhile, the Duma Rules Committee advised the lower house of parliament to strip Shirshov of his immunity. His fellow party member Duma First Deputy Speaker Ivan Melnikov said later that, in the opinion of the Communist Party leadership and taking into account the gravity of the charges brought against Shirshov, it would be necessary for him to think about resigning from the post of State Duma deputy voluntarily.”

The State Duma will consider stripping Shirshov of his immunity on February 13, Melnikov said on February 11, after a meeting of the lower house’s Council, which determines its agenda.

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