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Corruption contest A Russian TV anchor aired corruption accusations against regional government officials. They accused him of using the segment itself to demand bribes. 

Source: Meduza
Mikhail Tereshchenko / TASS

On May 31, longtime TV anchor Andrey Karaulov posted an interview with Krasnoyarsk Krai Accounts Chamber Chairperson Tatiana Davydenko on his YouTube channel. In the interview, Davydenko described large-scale illegal logging in her region. She said local government officials have dealt poorly with forest fires and simultaneously facilitated lumber theft schemes. Davydenko also asserted that the has received threats of forced resignation and criminal charges due to her interest in the issue.

“A dialogue with Tatiana Davydenko, the chairperson of the Accounts Chamber of Krasnoyarsk Krai”
Andrey Karaulov’s official channel

After the interview was released, Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Alexander Uss asked Vice Governor Pavel Solodkin to meet with Davydenko and learn more about the threats she had received. Regional police officers also initiated an investigation of her accusations. On June 4, Davydenko presented a report to the regional legislature, but executive branch representatives who were present at the hearing came armed with harsh critiques. They called Davydenko’s report “part of a massive operation” against the governor and drew attention to the fact that Davydenko’s daughter owns a business with ties to woodland firefighting operations.

During the hearing, Deputy Governor Sergey Ponomarenko accused Karaulov of extortion. Ponomarenko said the anchor “made aggressive calls” to the regional administration and demanded money in exchange for keeping his interview with Davydenko off the air. “He noted that we have known each other for a long time and asked me in writing to pay 2.4 million rubles [almost $37,000] so that this segment, which a certain set of political forces ordered from him, would not be aired. Nobody paid him anything,” the deputy governor said. Ponomarenko also claimed that a “girl named Olesya” later reached out to him with a similar request.

Karaulov himself said he would report Ponomarenko to federal prosecutors. “Let the Prosecutor General’s Office investigate all these accusations of extortion. And if there was no extortion, then that’s either slander or interference with the work of a journalist, which are both criminal offenses,” he said.

Grigory Levchenko

Translation by Hilah Kohen

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