Anti-Corruption Activist’s Home Searched in Alleged Graft Case

MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti) – Police searched the apartment of Vladimir Ashurkov, a Moscow-based anti-corruption foundation director, on Thursday as part of an investigation into an embezzlement case involving famous opposition figure Alexei Navalny, the Investigative Committee said.

“The search was conducted as part of an investigation into the embezzlement of about 100 million rubles ($3.3 million) belonging the Union of Right Forces [SPS party],” the committee press service told RIA Novosti.

Ashurkov, the executive director of the anti-corruption foundation originally headed by Navalny, broke news of the search in his blog on Twitter.

Navalny later joined Ashurkov at the scene. “I came to Ashurkov’s place. He’s being searched. You’ll laugh, but they are looking for SPS documents,” Navalny tweeted.

Last Friday Russian investigators questioned former SPS member Nikita Belykh, the incumbent governor of the Kirov Region who once led the party’s political council, as a witness in connection with the party’s funds allegedly getting embezzled in 2007.

The Investigative Committee suspects Allekt, a company Navalny headed, of embezzling some 100 million rubles that Allekt received from the SPS for advertising services.

Belykh was also questioned in connection with the 2010 privatization of the Kirov Region’s Urzhumsky distillery, which allegedly involved fraudulent transactions with 25.5 percent of its shares. Police searched the office of the Kirov governor last Tuesday. The search was supposed to turn up papers linked to the distillery deal, in which, investigators said, the shares were underpriced by up to 90 million rubles ($3 million).

Earlier official reports indicated that investigators are also considering targeting Navalny, the whistleblower and anti-corruption crusader who served as Belykh’s pro bono adviser in 2009, in connection with the case. In January 2013 investigators brought final charges against Navalny for his alleged role in the embezzlement of 10,000 cubic meters of timber at the KirovLes state-run timber factory while he worked in the Kirov Region in Russia’s Volga Federal District.


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