Russia Digested 24.11

The story of Igor Plotnitsky is coming to an end – according to Luhansk Information Center he has resigned due to health condition (concussion is the official version). Whether he got concussion before or after the coup is not mentioned. Leonid Pasechnik took office today as Head of the Republic. Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has denied any connections to what looked like a Russian-backed evacuation of Plotnitsky.

Coming back to the 2018 elections, while Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) participation is confirmed, Gennady Zyuganov’s (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) place in the race is not confirmed – there is a controversy inside the party right now on whether his grandson, Leonid Zyuganov, will replace his grandfather as leader of the party, which overall questions the latter’s participation in the race. Still no word on whether Sergey Mironov, leader of A Just Russia, last of the Holy Trinity, will participate. On the liberal side Grigory Yavlynsky, Alexei Navalny and Ksenia Sobchak are the most prominent, although following Sobchak’s announcement in October a whole bunch of other candidates flew in. Vladimir Putin himself is keeping a tight lip on whether he will run, but people on both sides have little doubt he will. A better question is who will run against him, who will represent the liberal camp – Yavlynsky, Navalny, Sobchak or perhaps another character? Reports have surfaced that Kremlin would like to see a businessman – similar story happened in 2012 elections, when Mikhail Prokhorov gained 7,98% against Putin’s 71,31%. Perhaps this time it will be the infamous Sergei Polonsky. Another candidate is former Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin. Most questions will likely be answered in mid-December.

Constitutional Court Judge Konstantin Aranovsky proposed to loosen a criminal filter on elections, which might give a chance for Navalny to legally be signed for the race. Aranovsky stated that conditional sentence means only moderate degree of crime and should not limit the election rights. While the proposition is not linked to Navalny directly, experts claim he is the real reason. Navalny, along with entrepreneur Petr Ofitserov, was sentenced in 2013 (“Kirovles” case) to five years in prison, although five months later the sentence was changed to conditional. In 2017 the Court ruled again to sentence Navalny for five years, but the politician was able to prove that 56 out 57 pages of sentence were copied from the 2013 text, and thereby was dismissed. Ouch!

Another trial, this time on former Minister of Economic Development Alexey Ulukayev, is being continued. Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft who allegedly gave Ulukayev $2 million bribe, was called on by the Court three times during the last month, and dismissed all three of the calls. Earlier, Russian BBC Service published protocols that stated no one but Sechin heard Ulukayev extorting the bribe. Mihail Leontyev, Press Secretary of the company declared the protocols to be false.


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