MOSCOW: A Russian lawmaker suspected of contracting two murders was detained on Wednesday at the Russian parliament in front of stunned deputies after he tried to escape but was stopped by the parliament speaker.
Rauf Arashukov, who represents the Karachaevo-Cherkessiya region in the North Caucasus, was detained Wednesday morning after the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, voted to strip him of immunity from prosecution. Russia’s Prosecutor General and the head of the Investigative Committee that deals with high-profile crimes attended the immunity vote.
Arashukov is suspected of orchestrating the killing of a well-known activist and an adviser to the leader of Karachaevo-Cherkessiya in 2010. Russian news website RBC last year quoted investigation sources as saying that three people testified against the lawmaker, accusing him of ordering the murder of local activist Aslan Zhukov, who was shot dead outside his house. The man’s sister last year publicly came forward against Arashukov.
Arashukov, the son of a prominent businessman, was nominated by the local legislature and sent to the Federation Council in 2016 to become the youngest Council member at the age of 31.
Arashukov was stopped before he could leave the room where the deputies were discussing a motion to strip him of immunity from prosecution.
“He tried to get up and leave the session, and I told him to sit down because he was supposed to speak and give an explanation — and he went back,” Federation Council speaker Valentina Matvienko said in televised comments.
Lawmaker Sergei Kalashnikov, who was there when security officers detained Arashukov, said that no one was expecting it to happen.
“That was a complete surprise to everyone including the suspect who was late for the session,” Kalashnikov told the Interfax news agency.
Later on Wednesday, investigators announced that Arashukov’s father, Raul, who is a top manager at the gas company Gazprom, has been detained on suspicion of embezzling 30 billion roubles’ ($455 million) worth of gas supplies. They also said that they’re searching homes and offices in seven towns in connection with various investigations regarding the father and son.