Russian senator arrested on murder charges

Russian senator arrested on murder charges

The floor of the upper house of Russia’s parliament saw drama this week with the arrest of a senator on murder charges after the Speaker announced the session was closed to the press.

Russia’s youngest senator, Rauf Arashukov, 32, was left from the Federation Council on charges of murder, pressuring a witness and organised crime.

Arashukov, who joined the senate in 2016, denied all the charges, according to his lawyer, Evgeny Ustin.

Investigators laid out their case to Arashukov’s colleagues to lift his immunity.

The youthful senator was ordered to sit back down by Speaker Valentina Matvienko as he allegedly attempted to flee through the parliamentary gallery, but then surrendered to investigators.

“He really tried [to escape],” Matvienko told the media. “He tried to get upstairs and out of the session. I told him to sit in his place, because according to current rules, he has the right to speak and give an explanation. He declined the opportunity. That is also his right.”

She said the alleged crimes had taken place before he became a senator.

The allegations include the 2010 murders of a presidential aide and youth politician from Arashukov’s Karachay-Cherkessia (pictured) region in Russia’s turbulent North Caucasus.

Arashukov was thought to be involved in other crimes, said the Investigative Committee of Russia.

Three witnesses reportedly implicated the senator last September.

A lawyer for the prosecution alleged Arashukov may have been responsible for at least four murders.

Aslan Zhukov, head of the youth movement Adyge-Khase, was shot in March 2010.

In May 2010 Fral Shebkhuzov, an adviser to Karachay-Cherkessia’s regional president, was beaten and then shot dead.

His tycoon father was also apprehended, suspected of setting up the criminal gang and involvement in fraud involving 30 billion rubles (€390 million) in stolen natural gas.

Russian senators are normally carefully vetted by the Kremlin before going through the technical procedure of being appointed for a region.

Arashukov also faced “document fraud that allowed him to become a senator”, the Russian media reported.

Arashukov was a member of President Vladimir Putin United Russia party, which said his membership had been suspended.

During the interrogation, Arashukov reportedly requested an interpreter because his Russian was too poor and he required translation into his native tongue, according to the investigative committee.

Parliamentary immunity has been actively used by other politicians. Andrei Lugovoy, who was named in a 2016 inquiry of having deliberately poisoned the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in the UK in 2006, has been an MP since 2007.

Karachay-Cherkessia. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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