Friday, February 22, 2013

Russian Blogger Uncovers Corruption, Brings Down None Other Than the Chairman of Parliament’s Ethics Committee

A senior lawmaker from Russia’s governing party, who was also the chairman of Parliament’s ethics committee, resigned from the legislature on Wednesday over revelations that he owned more than $1.3 million worth of luxury real estate in Florida that he did not list on required disclosure forms
reports Ellen Barry from Moscow.
The lawmaker, Vladimir A. Pekhtin, said that he did not want the matter to taint colleagues in his party, United Russia, and announced his departure at a morning parliamentary session.

Mr. Pekhtin said he had not broken any law. But “there are very controversial documents that have been made public on the Internet,” he said, and it was necessary to clear up “obvious legal misunderstandings.” 

 … Whether he surrendered his seat voluntarily or under pressure from the Kremlin, Mr. Pekhtin’s departure set a precedent in the Russian government, where high-level corruption and lavish spending overseas have developed into a serious political liability. Hours after Mr. Pekhtin’s announcement came a second resignation, from a United Russia lawmaker, Anatoly Lomakin, an industrialist whose wealth Forbes estimated at $1.2 billion. 

The development represents a victory for opposition activists, who have never achieved such a swift response to an exposé.

 … The blogger Aleksei Navalny, who published documents about Mr. Pekhtin’s real estate holdings last week, remarked that “now he can finally move to Miami and live in peace, without having to listen to any complaints.”

 … The proposal would not prohibit officials from owning real estate overseas. Still, it signaled a Kremlin crackdown on their lavish spending abroad, so the revelations about Mr. Pekhtin came as an ill-timed embarrassment. 
Tell me whether one of the concluding sentences sounds familiar to you.
After Mr. Pekhtin made his announcement, fellow lawmakers gave him a standing ovation and warmly applauded.