Yevgeny Urlashov: “I Was Warned That They Would Remove Me By Any Means.”

July 4, 2013
Yevgeny Uraslov. Source: Wall Street Journal.
[On July 3, Yevgeny Urlashov, the opposition-backed mayor of Yaroslavl, was arrested on charges of soliciting a bribe. Anti-Kremlin activists have called his arrest politically motivated and have gathered on Aleksandr Nevsky Square in Yaroslavl in defense of the mayor. All of Urlashov’s subordinates detained have turned on him and confessed their guilt. MVD Spokesman Vladimir Markin claims an audio tape of the alleged crime exists. — Ed.]
Defeater of United Russia and mayor of Yaroslavl, Yevgeny Urlashov was detained by police yesterday on charges of extortion of bribes. During the night of 2-3 July, the mayor’s car was surrounded by police. Eyewitnesses report that Urlashov was dragged from  his car and taken to an unknown destination. Toward dawn, Urlashov was brought back home, where a search began. At this time it is known that half a million dollars were found in the mayor’s apartment.

Other suspects in the case include Dmitry Donskov, deputy mayor; Maksim Poykalaynen, head of the Municipal Requisition Agency and Aleksey Lopatin, advisor to the mayor. The investigation believes that the plotters had an accomplice, a 34-year-old resident of Yaroslav Region who  was the middleman between businessmen and the city authorities.

It seems that for Urlashov himself, today’s events came as no surprise. The mayor links the heightened attention of law-enforcement to his victory over the United Russia candidate in the elections of 2012.

Urlashov is a member of the civic committee of Civic Platform, Mikhail Prokhorov’s party. He had far-reaching political plans; he intended to head the party’s list for the September elections for the region’s Duma and also planned to run in the elections for governor of Yaroslav Region. But the investigation may bring about some corrections to the politician’s plans.

According to the investigation, Urlashov and his subordinates – his deputy, advisory and the head of the Municipal Requisition Agency extorted 14 million rubles from the director of a commercial association responsible for street-cleaning. The director was threatened that his next contract would not be paid if he failed to pay the bribe. The businessman gave money to a middleman who was supposedly going to transfer it to the mayor. As it became known to the press, Urlashov is suspected of taking a bribe from the head of the Radostroy company Sergey Shmelyov with whom he had a long-time conflict.

TV Rain managed to reach Yevgeny Urlashov himself on the telephone.

“Mikhail Prokhorov’s Civic Platform has already issued sharp criticism of the police’s actions. Prokhorov himself is expecting an explanation from the law-enforcement agencies of the harsh measures used on the mayor of Yaroslavl.”

We will recall that Yaroslavl Mayor Urlashov won the elections of April 2012 against a United Russia protégé. Urlashov’s rating in the city began to rise after the plane crash occurred in Yaroslavl that resulted in the tragic deaths of the entire hockey team. After obtaining pledges of political support from Mikhail Prokhorov and local business, Urlashov won the elections; however in the opinion of many observers, he turned out to be unprepared for management work in the city. The searches and detentions today take place against the background of the smooth exit of Mikhail Prokhorov from politics.  Prokhorov withdrew from the mayoral elections in Moscow, so today’s visit by the police to Urlashov could be perceived as a signal for all of Civic Platform.