Deputies Accused of Living Beyond Their Means

July 10, 2013
Dmitry Dukhanin/Kommersant

[The Russian section of Transparency International monitored the income declarations of State Duma deputies and calculated the cost of their acquisitions. The researchers caught dozens of deputies with their expenses exceeding their income. The deputies themselves unanimously deny any violations, claiming that “their conscience and hands are clean.” – Ed.]

The research was conducted by the Russian section of Transparency International along with the Project Study Laboratory on Anti-Corruption Policy (PSL AP) of the Institute for Scientific Research of the Higher School of Economics. They compared the property declared by deputies in 2011 and 2012. Researchers came to the conclusion that at least ten deputies had expenses that exceeded their incomes from three years, and according to legislation on oversight for correspondence of expenses to incomes, in such cases the deputies must supply information about their acquisitions and sources of funds for them. The purchases of five deputies from United Russia raised questions: Vyacheslav Lysakov, Valery Yakushev, Rizvan Kurbanov, Saliya Murzabayeva and Nikolai Gerasimenko; along with Tamara Pletnyova and Anatoly Lokot from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation; Aleksandr Kurdyumov and Sergei Zhigaryov from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and also Adnan Muzykayev from Just Russia.

The authors of the report emphasized that the value of the property acquired by the deputies cited in the report was estimated. Thus, the value of real estate was calculated from the average price for one square meter in Moscow, since the region where the property was located was not indicated by the deputies. The value of the automobiles was indicated according to figures from official dealers.

The deputies themselves deny that their property does not fit in with the three-year income of a family. Vyacheslav Lysakov (All-Russian National Front) who was discovered by Transparency International to have a new apartment and a Toyota Crown Majesta whose value exceeded his family income (4 million rubles) told Kommersant that “my wife’s apartment was purchased in 2007, before my term as a deputy and even before our marriage; it is completely tiny and has no relationship to the new laws.” “And my car is a 1994 model, it is valued at no more than $6000-$8000,” he added. “I’ve had it for a long time, it was just registered to another person, but in 2005, I re-registered it to myself.” Mr. Lysakov has come out with an initiative to note in the declarations of income the year of the car model, since the price would change from it. “To speak of corrupt elements and high incomes in situations like me makes people laugh,” the deputy is convinced.

His faction colleague Saliya Murzabayeva was surprised at the “stratospheric” figures in the report (her apartment was appraised at 21 million rubles). “The apartment that I bought in December is located in Ufe, and it is worth about five million rubles, and the joint income of my family for three years is 8 million,” she told Kommersant. “The information is absolutely unreliable. By the way, I have one of the lowest incomes in the State Duma.”

United Russia member Valery Yakushev told Kommersant that his apartment, which was appraised at more than 8 million rubles, was acquired in Nizhny Tagil and was worth a bit more than 1.5 million. The deputy claimed that he had no residence of his own in Moscow, but lived in a government apartment. “My conscience and my hands are clean,” he noted.

Anatoly Lokot, deputy of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, joining the deputies from the ruling party, told Kommersant that a “serious mistake” had occurred. His spouse’s apartment was purchased in Novosibirsk for 3.5 million, and not in Moscow for 16 million. In the event of an inspection, the deputy is “prepared to provide the documents.” “It is useless to explain anything here. They slung mud and that’s it!” Mr. Lokot said, outraged.

Elena Panfilova, head of the Russian section of Transparency International, explained to Kommersant that the organization did not have the right to verify what region the real estate was purchased in, and therefore the data were only approximate. She believes that the profile commission of the State Duma must become concerned about the completeness of the deputies’ declarations. The materials of the research will be submitted to the State Duma Commission on Oversight of Deputies’ Incomes.

Sergei Zhigaryov, member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia faction, told Kommersant that “neither I nor my spouse acquired any new property from the list indicated in 2012.” “They were purchased back before 2007, but my assistant, who prepared the declaration, did not indicate them, and we noticed this only this year, when the declaration was published.” If necessary, the deputy was prepared to provide documents backing up his words “to the competent bodies.” The same was said at Just Russia. Mariya Ryndak, an aide to Mr. Muzykayev, assured Kommersant “I am aware of the latest acquisitions of Adnan Abdulayevich and can say that in the last three years he did not acquire any personal or real property.”