Know-how of Russian elections: law-enforcers will deal with the governors whom the Kremlin dislikes.
Governor of Saratov region Dmitry Ayatskov said that personally General Public Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov had initiated legal proceedings against him, the Kommersant wrote. In an Echo of Moscow interview Ayatskov said that he has had “not very good” relations with General Public Prosecutor since May 2000 when governor Ayatskov voted in the Parliament against appointing Mr. Ustinov to the post. Earlier Ayatskov said that starting criminal proceedings against him was politically motivated as the governor elections in the region take place soon.
On May 15 possible successor of Ayatskov as the governor of Saratov region, Deputy chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin visited Saratov region. Mr. Volodin made no comment of governor Ayatskov’s problems with law-enforcers.
On May 13 investigators from the Office of General Public Prosecutor of Saratov region took some documents from the office of governor Ayatskov.
The background of this criminal prosecution is as follows. In August 1998 the government of Saratov region purchased 20 Case combine harvesters. State enterprise “Regional Food Corporation” received the combine harvesters. On August 17 default of Russian rouble depreciated it fourfold, and the corporation had no money to pay customs duty of $7.3 million. Regional government accepted the responsibility for paying the customs, vice-governor Sergei Shuvalov signed the related document in 1998. However, the government failed to fulfill its obligations, and in the end of 2001 it owned $8 million (5 percent of the overall annual budget of the region) to the custom house.
In January 2002 regional Office of Public Prosecutor started criminal proceedings against deputy governor Shuvalov on accusations of abusing his power. According to the Office of Public Prosecutor, Mr. Shuvalov was not in the position to change the expenditures of the regional budget. However, in September 2002 Sergei Shuvalov was elected deputy for the regional Parliament and in this was gained immunity against being prosecuted.
In December 2002 Saratov regional court conducting hearing on the case of combine-harvesters and issued a verdict that there are no fact of crime in the activity of the former vice-governor. The case was closed. However, regional prosecutor Anatoly Bondar said many times that law-enforcers were going to pursue the case again. Law-enforcers did not name Mr. Ayatskov the person involved in the case, he was not even giving testimony as a witness.
In addition, the regional General Public Prosecutor laid other accusations upon Mr. Ayatskov. In particular, the prosecutor said that “the issue if the property rights for the rubber plant were given in compliance with the law, is being investigated, along with the details of giving loans and writing them off to the officials of the regional government, and many others”, the Izvestia reported. On May 15, Saratov governor gave written undertaking not to leave the place.
Russian Criminal Code makes no exception for governors, they can be prosecuted as ordinary citizens of Russia. In the summer of 2000 the newly adopted law authorized Russian President to dismiss the governor temporary if the governor was accused of committing heinous crime. The criminal case against Mr. Ayatskov has been initiated of the grounds of the alleged heinous crime.
After the charges are brought to governor Ayatskov, President Putin can dismiss him.
Similar situation is in Chelyabinsk region. The anti-corruption campaign there is connected with the impending elections of Chelyabinsk governor and mayor. The arrest of the mayor of town Miass is just a beginning of the campaign to bring down the administration of Chelyabinsk region.
On May 12 the mayor of Miass Vladimir Grigoriadi was arrested in his office when he was accepting bribe. There is little information on Miass mayor, but one fact is known for sure: he is the supporter of regional governor Petr Sumin.
Native of Chelyabinsk region, Russian government Minister of Industry and Power Energy can be the possible successor of Chelyabinsk governor Petr Sumin. There is unofficial information that President Putin supports Mr. Khristenko running for the post of Chelyabinsk governor.
Department of Politics