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Member of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) Vasily Zhurko has requested Russia’s Investigations Committee, Prosecutor General’s Office and the Federal Security Service to probe into the actions of Russia’s top officials during the 2008 Georgian-Ossetian conflict. The request was prompted by a documentary film, the Lost Day, where law enforcers accused the then president, Dmitry Medvedev, of being too hesitant during the Russia-Georgian war in South Ossetia.
According to the lawmaker, his request is not aimed against any concrete officials, the issue is to be clarified by investigators. He said it was his personal request that was not coordinated with the LDPR faction. In his words, he wrote it after he saw the Lost Day documentary, the Vedomosti newspaper writes.
The film, the newspaper recalls, features former army commanders who claim that the orders to use the army to rebuff the attack of Georgian troops against South Ossetia came too late. Former chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Yuri Baluyevsky openly accused the then President Dmitry Medvedev of hesitancy. Zhurko says he is not familiar with the film’s authors and has not spoken to the generals appearing in the film. In his words, the key goal of a would-be investigation is to expose mistakes if any in order to avoid them in the future.
According to a law enforcement officer, the lawmaker wants an answer but it is not clear which agency is to be authorized to give one.
It seems certain that Zhurko meant the president but the procedure of calling the head of state to responsibility is too complicated and cannot be initiated only though requests to relevant bodies. Zhurko’s complaints are nothing more but mere populism, the Vedomosti cites Communist lawmaker Sergei Obukhov.
One of Zhurko’s fellow faction members characterized him as a cautious man and it is very much likely that his request was sanctioned by LDPR leader Vladimir Zhurinovsky, Zhurko’s boss since the first Duma convocation. According to the man, this must be Zhirinovsky’s method to bargain a deputy minister post for the party.
The documentary is a real blow on Medvedev as a politician and this blow was delivered by Vladimir Putin’s “forth term” party, said political scientist Boris Makarenko. It is a secret to no one that many of LDPR’s initiative, whatever exotic on the face of it, are often used by the authorities as a kind of trial balloons, he noted.
The initiative won support of deputy chairman of the State Duma international committee Leonid Kalashnikov, the Kommersant newspaper writes. “The lawmaker has the right to know the sequence of events and who took decisions and how. The two Russian leaders are at variance when speaking about the August 2008 developments. But the prospects for this request seem to be rather vague. It seems most likely that it would be given the runaround,” the newspaper cites the lawmaker.
Mikhail Yemelyanov, a deputy chairman of the A Just Russia faction, called Zhurko’s request “an unwise PR action, when the political life is boring.” “I don’t see any reasons for this request and I am sure that it has no prospect,” Yemelyanov said. “I don’t know how, say, the Investigations Committee, should react to it. It concerns problems of the political life rather than a criminal case.”
According to political scientist Mikhail Vinogradov, the Liberal Democratic Party just seeks to catch all the public attention, so it is ready to be a showdown instrument within the former tandem. But “the country’s leaders seem to have no need in it,” he noted.