Russian State Duma strips immunity of veteran Communist Party lawmaker Valery Rashkin
The Russian State Duma has voted to remove the immunity of veteran Communist Party (KPRF) lawmaker Valery Rashkin, Interfax reported on Thursday, November 25.
The Russian Attorney General’s Office submitted a request to the State Duma to strip Rashkin’s immunity earlier this month, after authorities in the Saratov region opened a criminal case against the lawmaker for illegal hunting.
The case was opened in late October, after Saratov police stopped Rashkin for drunk driving and found a butchered elk in the trunk of his car. Initially, Rashkin claimed that he found the elk carcass, but he later admitted to killing the animal himself (allegedly, he mistook it for a wild boar). At the same time, he insisted that he was hunting legally, claiming that he only denied the accusations so as “not to incriminate anyone” else.
During the State Duma session on Thursday, 341 lawmakers voted in favor of stripping Rashkin’s immunity, another 55 voted against, and two more abstained.
Addressing the State Duma, Attorney General Igor Krasnov stated that thanks to the media the lawmaker’s “shame” “became common knowledge,” and accused Rashkin of trying to “evade responsibility.”
In turn, Rashkin expressed the opinion that the media attention surrounding the alleged illegal hunting incident was excessive. “Never have so many words been dedicated to a single, cloven-hoofed animal. I only saw such a fuss over the Kennedy assassination. I haven't noticed such FSB attention with regard to poachers, from whom hundreds of kilograms of animal paws and lips are confiscated,” Rashkin said on Thursday.
The removal of Valery Rashkin’s parliamentary immunity will allow law enforcement agencies to bring charges against him in connection with the illegal hunting case. However, a lawmaker can only be deprived of their mandate after a verdict is passed.