Prosecutors probe Russian state official over foreign villa
MOSCOW, August 2 (RIA Novosti) - Prosecutors in central Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod Region launched a probe in regard to a regional deputy governor on allegations that the state official owns an undeclared property abroad, Kommersant daily reported on Friday.
In late July, Dmitry Gudkov, a lawmaker with the Russian parliament’s lower house, wrote in his LiveJournal.com blog that Nizhny Novgorod’s Deputy Governor Anton Averin owned a villa in French Cannes, which he never declared in documents. Gudkov enclosed in the blog scans of registration documents in the French language as a proof.
The daily reported that the Prosecutor’s Office of the Nizhny Novgorod launched a probe and is now verifying the validity of the submitted scans.
In May, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that bans Russian officials from keeping their money in foreign banks, but allows them to own property abroad, which must be declared and the sources of funding for its acquisition explained.
The Kremlin has touted the legislation as a corruption-fighting measure; however, some analysts have suggested it is part of Putin’s attempt to “nationalize the elite,” by tethering officials more firmly to Russia, and thereby to strengthen his own grip on power.
Russia ranked 133rd of 174 countries in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index by the Transparency International watchdog, alongside Iran, Kazakhstan and Honduras. Corruption has been cited by the government itself as one of the principal threats to Russia's national security.