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Russian state TV anchor's British citizenship makes his government ‘public council’ memberships illegal

Meduza
PhotoXPress

On November 22, Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation revealed that Rossiya-1 television anchor Sergey Brilev has had British citizenship since at least 2001. A few days later, Brilev verified this information, insisting that he’s violated no laws, saying, “An employee at a federal state unitary enterprise isn’t a state official [...] and I have no access to classified information.” In fact, Brilev’s second citizenship means he broke the law twice by illegally joining two public councils, first at Russia’s Interior Ministry and then at Russia’s Defense Ministry.

Between 2011 and 2013, Brilev was a member of the Interior Ministry’s first Public Council, despite the fact that the Kremlin issued an executive order in 2011 directly banning persons with foreign citizenship from joining this group.

In 2016, Brilev became (and remains to this day) a member of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Public Council. Another presidential order subjects membership in federal ministries’ public councils to the same rules that apply to Russia’s Civic Chamber, where dual citizens have been banned since 2013. The first to notice Brilev’s illegal membership in the Defense Ministry’s Public Council were Internet users in the Vkontakte community “Political Views.”

It’s unclear how Brilev managed to join these two public councils, despite presidential orders that should have prevented his membership. The TV anchor and spokespeople for both groups have been unavailable to comment on the issue.

Meduza managed to reach Igor Butman, another member of the Defense Ministry’s Public Council. A jazz saxophonist, Butman has both Russian and U.S. citizenship. He says he was unaware of the ban on dual citizens. “They never asked. Maybe they didn’t pay any attention to this. I’ve never concealed my [dual] citizenship. If necessary, I’ll have to leave the Public Council to avoid breaking the law,” the musician said.

Story by Denis Dmitriev

Ilya Zhegulev contributed to this report. Translation by Kevin Rothrock.