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MOSCOW, June 19 (Itar-Tass) — Communist lawmaker Vladimir Bessonov may face criminal prosecution if the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament agrees to a probe against him, on which the Investigative Committee insists in the relevant request sent to the house.
The Communists believe the interest in their colleague is part of the authorities' general offensive against the Opposition.
The reason behind the SK's demand for partial lifting of immunity from Vladimir Bessonov is his fight against law-enforcement agents in Rostov-on-Don on December 2, the Kommersant writes. The SK offered no explanations as to why the issue of criminal prosecution of Bessonov was raised only lately. Sergei Obukhov, a secretary of the KPRF's Central Committee, told the newspaper that the reason was obvious: "it seems, the authorities have begun an offensive against the Opposition.That is why they are beginning with the most active lawmakers, including participants the Bolotnaya /Square/ actions."
Rostov-on-Don is noted for touch actions by police and the Opposition, a KPRF Central Committee secretary Vadim Solovyov said, "They can detain a lawmaker, handcuff him and sent to a detainees' center." Solovyov denied the aggressive behavior of his colleague: "there was no fight; there were heated arguments. The Party is ready to "defend its comrade," because United Russia lawmakers will certainly strip immunity from the Opposition activist in the current situation."
The maximum penalty for Bessonov would be a 1,000-rouble fine. The newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta cited KPRF Central Committee secretary Vadim Solovyov as saying that the authorities had decided to put the Opposition in its place, not only the non-system Opposition but also the parliament Opposition.
President of the Foundation for Effective Policy Gleb Pavlovsky, cited by the newspaper, believes that the Investigative Committee turned "the case over rallies," into a big political matter: "The SK needs it for strengthening the position under the new authorities. Bastrykin is experimenting, by actively expanding the scope of usual, politically-permitted activity."
He is confident that the authorities must think well before quarrelling with the largest Opposition Party as they are creating against themselves a consolidated front of the parliamentary and non-parliamentary Opposition forces." In this sense, "this demarche has no prospects; but there are certainly prospects for the Investigative Committee’s expansion in the political area. This is becoming a new political factor in Russia's life. There appeared the Investigative C committee in our politics, along with Parties and the Kremlin."
Other opposition lawmakers suspect political motivation in the case against Bessonov, too, the Novye Izvestia writes. A Just Russia representative Ilya Ponomaryov believes that investigators are simply "warming up" before making such cases a routine practice.
"I'm absolutely sure that the SK is trying to test lawmakers' reaction," according to Ponomaryov, "if they are ready to "turn in" their colleague over such a minor matter, things will be easier with the problems that were in Moscow."
The Liberal Democratic Party /LDPR/ faction might become the third faction to object to the SK's opinion. LDPR lawmakers believe that the reason behind criminal prosecution is questionable. "They've been thinking too long about the mater, and since they've waited that long they might have waited some more, before the expiration of lawmaker's powers," LDPR faction member Maxim Rokhmistrov said, "it is unlikely we’ll be able to ascertain today who attacked whom in December. But this case can be regarded as an option to put pressure on lawmakers, because many of us participate in rallies; and Opposition activities relate to it, too."
According to human rights activists, cited by the Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the investigators have some 600 suspected participants in Bolotnaya Square rally on May 6. It is quite possible they will keep company of the 13 rally participants who have already been placed under arrest. The newspaper also refers to possible voilations during the arrest of ordinary rally participants.