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A Moscow district official asks Putin to save him from Moscow's governor

Meduza
13:42, 20 april 2018

Alexander Shestun, the head of the Moscow region’s Serpukhovsky district, has addressed a video to Vladimir Putin, claiming that Governor Andrey Vorobyov is threatening to confiscate his home and put him in prison, if he doesn’t resign. Vorobyov supposedly wants him out because Shestun opposes the transformation of the Serpukhovsky district into a municipal precinct and he objects to further waste shipments from the city to Serpukhov’s over-capacity “Lesnaya” landfill.

Threats from people in high places

Shestun’s video includes audio recordings of conversations with officials he identifies as Andrey Yarin (Putin’s head of domestic policy), Ivan Tkachev(the head of the FSB’s credit and finance counterintelligence unit), and Mikhail Kuzetsov (the Moscow governor’s chief of staff). In the recordings, Tkachev supposedly says Shestun’s life would be “steamrolled” if he didn’t resign, offering up the following examples of ruined state officials: Denis Sugrobov (the former economic crimes unit director who was sentenced to 22 years in prison in April 2017 for organizing a crime syndicate), Alexander Solovyov (the former head of Udmurtia who was fired and arrested for allegedly receiving bribes), and Leonid Markelov (the former governor of Mari El, who’s now charged with illegal weapons possession and soliciting bribes).

Shestun says the conversations took place last year, in late April and early May. He claims Tkachev repeated his warning in April 2018, telling him not to permit any protests against the Lesnaya garbage dump.

Alexander Shestun's message to Vladimir Putin
Vlada Rusina

Shestun also says masked law enforcement officers raided the Serpukhovsky district’s administrative office on April 19. Shestun didn’t specify the reason for the unscheduled inspection, but he says the agents planted two envelopes in his safe containing 180,000 rubles (about $3,000).

A bit of history on Shestun and Serpukhov

Alexander Shestun has served as head of the Serpukhovsky district since 2003. He has repeatedly criticized Governor Vorobyov, who in 2014 launched a jurisdictional enlargement initiative to fold various districts into municipal precincts. Shestun has also feuded with the Moscow Region’s Forestry Commission, which briefly tried to seize the land on which his house is located. On April 5, Moscow’s regional parliament restored direct elections for Shestun’s position, after abolishing them in 2015.

On April 5 and 9, FSB agents raided district administrative offices in Serpukhov and Volokolamsk. Shestun says this was punishment for granting demonstration permits to residents for protests against local landfills that have spewed hydrogen sulfide into the air.

On April 9, Shestun appealed to his constituents in a video message where he accused the Moscow regional authorities of threatening him with criminal charges if he granted the permits and dared to run for re-election in September. The message included an audio recording of a conversation with someone Shestun claims is Mikhail Kuznetsov.