Profile: disgraced lawmaker Gennady Gudkov
Gennady Gudkov was born in Kolomna, Moscow Oblast in 1956. He studied to become a language teacher, specializing in English and German, but made a dramatic career change in becoming a KGB officer in 1981. Speaking recently with RIA Novosti, Gudkov explained that working for the agency had been a lifelong dream: “I joined the KGB when I was 25, but I’d wanted to join since I was as at school…. It was a dream job for young boys back then. I even wrote a letter to [KGB chief Yury] Andropov and got a reply – from his secretary, of course. But I was pretty pleased.” He worked for state security from 1981 to 1993, and thus witnessed the fall of the KGB and the rise of the FSB. During his state security tenure, Gudkov underwent counterintelligence training and studied International Relations at the now known as the Academy of Foreign Intelligence.
He has been serving as a lawmaker in the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, since 2001, and is a member of A Just Russia political party.
As the opposition movement gathered steam, he and his son Dmitry - also an outspoken A Just Russia lawmaker - became two of the high-profile figures associated with the protests that swept Moscow. As explained by RIA Novosti columnist Marc Bennetts, “It was a remarkable transformation for Gudkov, who up until this winter’s protests had been a loyal member of the A Just Russia party, widely viewed by analysts as a Potemkin parliamentary opposition faction with no genuine desire to challenge the status quo.”
In August, the Investigative Committee launched an investigation into Gudkov’s business dealings based on allegations that he had directly engaged in commercial activities, which is prohibited under Russian law by virtue of his political position. Among the companies probed was the Bulgarian-registered English Village. When asked about his business dealings in the country, Gudkov told RIA Novosti, “I was not personally involved in commercial activities, especially in Bulgaria…. My only investment in that country is buying beer and paying for a ride in an amusement park."
On August 6, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin announced that a file concerning Gudkov’s business dealings had been filed with the State Duma: “Information about lawmaker Gennady Gudkov’s failure to comply with [legal] prohibitions and restrictions, which was received during a probe, has been turned over to the State Duma and the Prosecutor General’s Office.”
Gudkov has told RIA Novosti that he believes the investigation was politically motivated, based on his status as an opposition leader. He warned earlier this month that the authorities were making a regrettable mistake in targeting the opposition’s more balanced leaders, “If it forces people like me – who insist on dialogue with the authorities – out of the protest movement, [than] my place will be taken by radicals and extremists. And the clashes we will see then with police will be no laughing matter at all.”
The investigators ultimately sought Gudkov’s expulsion from the Duma in order to be able to press charges based on his allegedly fraudulent business dealings, which would be otherwise barred due to his official immunity.
On September 1, Gudkov announced, “On Friday evening I got a copy of a letter from Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika addressed to the State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin in which he asks parliamentarians to take a decision on my early termination of parliament’s power. The letter is titled on abuse of power and violation of ethics by Deputy Gudkov.”
The United Russia-dominated parliament ousted Gudkov in a formal hearing on September 14.
He vowed to challenge his ouster in the Supreme Court and delivered an emotional statement, lamenting, "They're expelling me from the Duma because they're afraid of the truth, afraid of criticism,” and vowing, “I will leave, but will return to help build a new Russia that our children and grandchildren can be proud of… this will be soon – very soon.”