Russia checks taxes of parliament critic of Putin
Russian investigators said Tuesday they were checking a tax evasion complaint filed against one of only a handful of parliament members to vocally oppose President Vladimir Putin's rule.
The powerful Investigative Committee said it has launched an initial probe into emails it had received from a Bulgarian businessman about senior A Just Russia opposition party member Gennady Gudkov.
“In his statement, (Bulgarian national Ivaylo) Zartov reports on foreign currency investments that… Gudkov made in a company located in Bulgaria, and the evasion of taxes in the territory of Russia,” the committee said.
Gudkov’s small party — one of only four in the State Duma lower house — personally embarrassed Putin in April by leading a walkout during a keynote address he made after being elected to an historic third term as president.
A Just Russia has recently emerged as a prominent Kremlin critic after having spent years promoting leftist opposition ideas while voting with the government on most of its initiatives.
Gudkov like Putin is a former KGB spy who runs his own armed security service and has links to Russia’s secretive early post-Soviet diplomatic world.
He dismissed the complaint — detailed by state-linked NTV television over the weekend — as a state-sponsored provocation that relied on the false testimony of a swindler who had earlier been convicted by a Bulgarian court.
Gudkov said in his blog that he helped organise a Russian businessman’s loan for a proposal by Zartov to build townhouses in Bulgaria’s Black Sea resort of Burgas about five years ago.
He said Zartov ended up never developing the property and pocketing the money before being arrested and sentenced for graft.
“Four-and-a-half years pass, and convict Zartov suddenly emerges as the star of Russian television screens,” Gudkov wrote.
NTV has run a series of sleaze attacks against opposition leaders in the months since Russia was gripped by the first wave of anti-government protests of Putin’s 12 years in power.
The Investigative Committee has also launched separate probes against demonstration leader Alexei Navalny and several other of his allies.