Investigation Department of Russian Federation Investigation Committee in Central Federal District has appealed to Basmanny court to change restrictive measure for Sergei Nikiforov, CEO on development of ZAO Keramotsentr, who was accused of involvement in extortion. Due to the fact that he has made a deal with the investigators and gives testimony against his accomplices, Investigation Department has placed an appeal to take him out of detainment facility and put under house arrest. This would have been a rather commonplace situation, but for one thing. Nikiforov is the son-in-law of the Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, and for five month now, thanks to the imprisonment of the Communist leader's relative, the Kremlin has been pursuing its political objectives with Zyuganov's help. Most important of such objectives is to reduce the number of scandals around the United Russia. In particular, the Communist Party was forced to abandon its claim meant to challenge in court the legality of United Russia victory in the elections to the State Duma in December 2011.
Sergey Nikiforov was detained by Central Federal District police on 23 November 2012. The arrest was officially announced three days later. Communist Party reaction to the situation looked more than strange. Press secretary of Communist Party confirmed that Zyuganov has a son-in-law whose name is Sergey Nikiforov, but the did not give any comments as to whether the arrested man was a relative of the party leader or merely his namesake. Zyuganov was unavailable for comment. It was obvious that the Communists were thinking what they should do next.
One option was to acknowledge the detention of the Communist Party leader's relative, but to declare the arrest a provocation meant to put pressure on the party and force it to abandon its attempts to legally challenge 2011 elections to the Duma. However, this option would guarantee that Nikifirov, accused under Part 3 of Article 33 and Part 6 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code (aiding and abetting bribery in a large amount), would be sentenced to eight years in prison.
According to Rumafia sources in the Russian government, another option was suggested by the presidential administration. This option could help Nikifirov go out of jail and be sentenced to only a fine or probation. To do this, the Communists had to abandon any attempt to challenge the notorious landslide victory of United Russia in the elections to the State Duma and stop causing more scandals involving the ruling party. According to the source, Zyuganov has chosen the second option. More so because he could not resist the desire of his beloved daughter.
As a result, in December 2012, in the midst of numerous scandals involving United Russia, including the adoption of Dima Yakovlev law, the leader of the Communist Party decided not to file to the Supreme Court a claim that had been already prepared and was meant to challenge the outcome of the 2011 elections. In fact, against the background of discontent with the ruling party in society, the Communists could have strengthened their political position after filing the claim. Ivan Melnikov, the first deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and head of the Central Headquarters of the party for the elections, commented on the decision, but his comments were very vague, inconclusive.
"It is true that we have prepared a claim to file to the Supreme Court and indeed, having given it more consideration, this time decided not to file it,” Melnikov told reporters. “Let me remind you that after the 2003 parliamentary elections and the parliamentary elections of 2007 we appealed to the Supreme Court. Both then and especially now we have no illusions allowing to be hopeful about the prospects for fair trial. Earlier, the Communist Party resorted to the legal process to draw public attention to the fraud and keep the subject in focus. Now the situation is different: the society is awake, people understand what is happening. In these circumstances, there is no use in formal legal defeat of the party, it will cause damage to the current conditions around the struggle for fair elections."
Very logical: in 2003 and 2007 "the people were asleep," but they went to court. And now, on the contrary, "the people woke up," the party will not sue.
It should be noted that in early 2012 the same Melnikov had quite a different point view: "There will be hundreds of appeals to the courts, and we will reach the Supreme Court. We have no illusions about court rulings, but it should be done, there will be situations where power will not be able to get away with what it does.” Zyuganov prefered to avoid commenting why the party dropped its idea of filing a lawsuit to the Supreme Court.
More unused opportunities followed. In March 2013 Centre for problem analysis and public management design, led by Russian Railroads head Vladimir Yakunin, based on conducted research pointed to fraud in 2011-2012 elections. Pro-government analysts said that the Communist Party won the election, not United Russia. It would seem that the experts working under the close ally of Vladimir Putin, give such a great opportunity to the Communist Party and this topic should be developed and drawn to the public attention. But the Communists did not show much agitation as if they had nothing to do with the expert findings. Only Vadim Soloviov, the Secretary of the Communist Party on Legal Affairs, said the party agreed with the conclusions by the analysts, but promptly stressed that Communists would not file any lawsuits as it was pointless. Zyuganov again kept silent. He also did not comment on the many recent scandals concerning foreign real estate owned by State Duma deputies from the United Russia. He also remained silent while United Russia argued with Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper. Zyuganov said only that he understands the anger of his fellow State Duma deputies, and "freedom of speech does not mean the media is allowed to say anything it pleases as there are many moral and ethical constraints." Looked like the Communist leader even supported his opponents, the United Russia, in this issue.
Finally all these humiliations began to be justified. Prosecutor General's office satisfied the petition previously filed Sergey Nikiforov for a pretrial agreement between himself and the investigation. Investigation department filed a petition to Basmanny court to change the measure of restraint for Zyuganov;s son-in-law to house arrest. Only time can tell what else the leader of the Communist Party will have to do to ensure his son-in-law is sentenced not to imprisonment.
According to the investigation, in fall 2012 a Moscow company was having problems with lease period extension of a building owned by the city of Moscow. Sergey Nikiforov offered deputy director of the company to solve the problem for a bribe of $ 223 thousand. Through an intermediary - Andrey Symonenko – this money was to go to Denis Vasiliev, the head of contractual relations department at the Moscow city property department. According Rumafia, intelligence agencies knew that Zyuganov’s son-in-law was engaged in some shady business. As a result, investigators came to the entrepreneur who was preparing the bribe and insistently persuaded him to continue under their control.
On 23 November 2012 the businessman handed over $ 100 000 to Sergey Nikiforov, who was immediately arrested. Zyuganov’s son-in-law agreed to cooperate with the investigation and to participate in an operative experiment. The next day, under the supervision of investigators, he went to give the money to Vasiliev, who was also arrested on the spot.
Thomas Gordon, especially for Rumafia.com