Russian deputy loses immunity over swindling allegations

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Russia's lower house of parliament voted Wednesday to strip the political immunity of businessman and deputy Achot Eguiazarian, who prosecutors suspect is guilty of major swindling.

Some 352 Duma deputies backed the measure, requested by the public prosecutor's office, with another 39 voting against it and five abstaining.

"We are not stripping the immunity of a deputy but of a businessman who is doing business under the cover of his statute," said lawmaker Alexander Khinchtein of the ruling United Russia party.

Eguiazarian was not present during the vote, claiming to have fled the country after receiving death threats.

But in a statement he said he was the victim of government intrigue because of his investments in the reconstruction of the luxury Stalinist-era Moskva Hotel, a stone's throw from the Kremlin.

Eguiazarian is the fourth Duma lawmaker to have lost his immunity from prosecution. The others include Sergei Mavrodi, who mounted a pyramid scheme that ruined tens of thousands of Russians in 1995.

© 2010 AFP

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