Hard for Russian government to ignore this sensational report on corruption

Russian corruption

By Slava Tsukerman

Lately in Russia a number of publications are discussing corruption by Russian governmental elite.

There were 24 million views of a film about real estate properties of prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, produced by Alexei Navalny’s Anti Corruption Foundation.  It triggered rallies all over Russia. For the first time in modern Russian history the youngest members of Russian society, high schools and universities students, participated.

The first Government’s reaction to these events was the attempts to move some propaganda assets from state TV, watched mainly by older people, to the Internet, the realm of youth’s activity.

Then State Duma adopted a new law. The adopted law orders “to protect the personal data of state security objects and their family members.” 

The “objects” of state protection are: the President, the Prime Minister, the chairman of the Duma, the chairmen of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts, the Prosecutor General, the chairman of the Investigative Committee and all the Duma deputies, all senators, ministers and governors and members of their families.

In the 1990s, a law was passed in Russia that obliged top officials to declare incomes and other financial data.   Russians were proud of it. It meant openness, honesty, fighting corruption! Now it’s kind of forgotten.

If the new law orders secrecy, how will the offenders be punished?

CC RF, art. 283 states:   Disclosure of state secrets is punishable by imprisonment for a term of 3 to 7 years.

An established  journalist Alexander Minkin comments

“Very cute and even very humane. There are details: I want to understand what will be the punishment for the reprint of an old article, which tells, for example, about a member’s of Duma villas in Miami (USA)? It seems that you cannot punish for an old article; the law should not be retroactive. But suddenly the reprint may be considered criminal?

“For example, a lot is written about the duck’s house in the Medvedev’s estate. But if they will paint it or will build there a second floor – can you write about it or not?”

‘Why does the new law pays special attention to the properties of members of the families?”

Russian Internet is crowded with publications about reported income of the wives of the Russian statesmen, especially of the wives of the heads of regions. Somebody put some of the figures from these publications together and published the list on FaceBook on July 12. By now lots and lots of FaceBook users reprinted this list. Here is its translation:

“In 2016:

“The income of the wife of the Governor of Volgograd Region was 5 times higher than her husband’s.

“The income of the wife of the Governor of Rostov Region was 10 times higher than her husband’s.

“The income of the wife of the President of Tatarstan was 313 times higher then income of her husband.

“In 2017:

“The income of the wife of the head of Crimean administration had grown 10 times.

“The wife of the Governor of Leningrad Region had the income of 103 million rubles, almost 20 times more then her husband. 

“The income of the wife of the Irkutsk Region had grown 42 times.

“The income of the wife of the President of Buriatia had grown 180 times.” 

There was a magnificent wedding in Krasnodar Region in June, which a month later turned into a scandal at the federal level about the wedding cost when the daughter of Elena Khakhaleva, the local judge on land issues, married an investigator of the local Investigative Committee.

The wedding was attended by more then 500 guests. Among newlyweds’ gifts there was a luxurious Bentley. The top Russian stars (the total fee of this group according to the most conservative estimates was not less than $400,000) entertained the guests of the celebration. The party cost two million dollars. Journalists asked themselves: From where did the judge, whose annual salary is 2.5 million rubles ($33,000), get the money for the celebration?

The judge demanded others not to interfere in the private life of her family, and her demands were supported by similar demands of the stars, who performed at the wedding. However, the scandal could not be stopped. Bloggers and journalists began to study the sources of income of the parents of the newlyweds.

Details about the celebration became known only the last weekend.

A lot of information was revealed in the social networks, although a number of posts were later removed. Also, an article about the wedding disappeared from the newspaper “Kubanskiye Novosti”, published by the administration of the Krasnodar Region. The newspaper did not say why the material disappeared.

Here is the copy of this article entitled “The judge from Krasnodar spent $2 million on her daughter’s wedding.”

Article: <em>“The judge from Krasnodar spent $2 million on her daughter’s wedding.”

Elena Khakhaleva called the publications about the daughter’s wedding “pressure on a judge”. For the wedding, she said, the cost was paid by the father of the bride, from whom the judge was divorced. Ex-husband of the judge, Robert Khakhalev, is one the biggest land owners in the Krasnodar Region. The Region is one of the main agricultural areas in Russia. The criminal  seizures of small farmers’ lands by big landowners in that territory, involving extreme violence and murders, made sensations in Russia several years ago.

A lawyer Mikhail Beneas explained to the website Ifvremia.ru:

“Elena is singularly responsible for  handling the resolution of all land and real estate conflicts, unauthorized constructions, demolition of buildings, seizures of farmer’s land, establishment of legitimacy of real estate owners’ documents.”

In addition, Elena Khakhaleva is one of the possible candidates for the position of the Chair of the Regional Court of Justice.

A journalist Oleg Lurie wrote in his investigation, that all the land disputes in the territory involve the interests of the judge and her ex-husband.

According to Lurie, Robert Khakhalev who is  the largest landowner of Novopokrovsk Area of Krasnodar Region with the help of his ex-wife, has been purchasing land shares from farmers for a ‘song’. And those who were against such business were subject to a lot of problems, including beating up by police officers.

In the spring of 2017, a female farmer’s complaint to the Presidential Administration, accused Khakhaleva of facilitating the illegal seizure of land from farmers including her. She is waiting for the answer.

In June 2017, a 45 min. long video investigation on Khahaleva appeared on YouTube, in which she is called a “golden judge” and accused of complicity in the seizures of land. Here is the video. It is in Russian, but I suggest watching at least several minutes of it, to see the faces of farmers whose lands were taken by the Khakhalevs with the help of armed police.

Since then several more videos devoted to the activity of the “golden judge” appeared on YouTube.

The website “Region Online” publication accused Khakhaleva of having as well received the post of judge based on a fake diploma

The scandalous wedding of Khakhaleva’s daughter was covered by the most of Russian media, including Russian state TV. It was called the “greatest news of the day” by the TV anchor.

The Council of Judges of Krasnodar Region reported that they were well aware of the spending of the Khakhalev family on the wedding of their daughter but there have been no official reports about it to the Council.

Now the scandal had grown to such proportions that probably some reaction of high positioned state officials is going to follow.

Updated: July 26, 2017 — 10:37 am
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