MP faces jail for killing moose

A committee of Russia’s lower house of parliament recommended on Monday lifting the parliamentary immunity of Communist lawmaker Valery Rashkin, who has been implicated in an illegal fishing case deemed political by Kremlin critics.

Russia’s State Duma deputies will have to vote Thursday, in plenary, to allow the trial of Rashkin, 66, who is also the first secretary of the Communist Party in Moscow.

On October 29, he was arrested in a forest in the Saratov region (Volga) with the remains of an elk in the trunk of his car, initially claiming that he had found the animal already dead, before confessing last week to shooting it.

A case of “unlawful hunting” was opened, punishable by imprisonment for up to two years.

Critical voices accused the authorities of wanting to punish Valery Rashkin, who was distinguished for his sharp criticism of the Kremlin during the election campaign for the legislative elections in September.

In these elections, won by the ruling party (United Russia), the Communist Party of Russia (KPRF) made significant progress, taking 57 seats, 15 more than the 2016 elections.

The Communists in particular benefited from the climate of social discontent and the postponement of votes of supporters of the imprisoned opponent Alexei Navalny, whose movement was banned and deprived of candidates.

The KPRF also denounced massive fraud during the polls, particularly regarding online voting.

Valery Rashkin told a crowd of protesters that the ruling party “United Russia stole the seats of deputies”, criticizing the “massive electoral fraud.”

KPRF’s elected officials generally vote in favor of the Kremlin’s proposed big measures, but they can also strongly oppose candidates for power, especially in regions.

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In 2018, they actively demonstrated against the reform of the approved pension system at the suggestion of Vladimir Putin.

On Monday, a representative of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, Sergei Bochkarev, confirmed that the prosecution of Valery Rashkin was not an “order” of the authorities.

On the same day, before the State Duma, the person in question said that he was ready to pay 80,000 rubles (950 euros) in compensation and buy and then release a moose of the same size in the same forest, as compensation.

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