Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, February 13

© Alex StefflerRussian Press - Behind the Headlines, February 13
Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, February 13 - Sputnik International
Volunteer Patrols to Battle Illegal Immigration \ Ilyumzhinov Set to Establish Chess Party Movement \ Will Duma Expel Pekhtin Over Property in Miami?


Volunteer Patrols to Battle Illegal Immigration

The first anti-illegal immigration patrols went out into the streets of Moscow on Tuesday, Alexei Mayorov, head of Moscow’s regional security department, announced yesterday. Made up of police volunteers and Federal Migration Service inspectors, they will look for illegal immigrants at construction sites, in the markets and in residential areas. The official paperwork will be done by the inspectors who will be assisted by 300 volunteers. Human rights activists are skeptical: they fear “aggressive-minded” people might join the patrol, increasing society’s anti-foreigner mood and further complicating the plight of migrants.

Mayorov said the police volunteers would monitor the “observance of migration legislation and the use of guest workers.” A patrol will consist of four police volunteers and one FMS inspector. There will be about 300 people patrolling the city. Following training, volunteers wearing purple vests screened with “Migration Patrol” will walk the city and take violators to police stations.

“The patrols will check not only industrial sites, but also local housing, construction sites, outdoor markets and transit hubs,” Mayorov explained. In 2012, according to Moscow City Hall, the number of illegal immigrants expelled from the city increased by 150 percent, yet there are still as many as 200,000 to 300,000 illegal residents here. In 2012, the migration service recorded 165,000 immigration violations.

Olga Kirillova, head of Moscow’s migration service, clarified that only an inspector had the right to bring immigrants before the law; the police volunteers will provide extra manpower. “Sometimes, it’s necessary to catch a violator who tries to run,” she added.

Patrols will also distribute handouts to immigrants with instructions and a list of documents required to obtain legal status.

Patrols will be recruited from among the city’s public order squads. They will work as volunteers only, with free public transport being the only benefit. Human rights activists have taken a wary attitude toward the initiative.

“Society is steeped with anti-foreigner hatred, and patrols will only add to the intensity,” said Svetlana Gannushkina, Head of the Civil Help foundation. “Usually, aggressive people join these patrols. As a result, immigrants will be held in even greater fear, which is unlikely to improve their position,” she added. 

Until now, the Svetlaya Rus movement (a nationalistic organization) has been patrolling the city for illegal immigrants, says Gavkhar Dzhurayeva, Head of the Migration and Law information legal center. They would enter a basement at night, knock on the door and point flashlights into the faces of frightened people, asking “Who are you?”

“This is not a struggle against immigration but a manhunt,” Dzhurayeva said. “I back the idea of patrols, but volunteers should be trained to speak with immigrants in a civil manner. There must be certain ethics in communication, which are now absent.”

She added that patrols, in addition to checking the identity of immigrants, should also take a look at employers who “rob the workers of their money and kick them out, leaving them no chance to gain legal status.”


Ilyumzhinov Set to Establish Chess Party Movement

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the Head of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) and former President of Kalmykia, is going to establish the Chess Party, an international movement. Ilyumzhinov plans to invite the United Russia Party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and even the unaffiliated opposition to join.

The movement, which it is hoped will achieve various political goals, will nominate candidates to parliaments at all levels worldwide.

Ilyumzhinov would like to attract various sponsors, including transnational corporations and the world’s largest IT companies, such as Google, Facebook and IBM to participate. And Ilyumzhinov would like to coordinate this new effort.

Ilyumzhinov does not, however, plan to head the movement in Russia or anywhere else. But he does plan to organize chess tournaments between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea), with similar matches between Palestinian and Israeli youth.

LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky expressed support for this idea and has wished Ilyumzhinov the best of luck. He said Ilyumzhinov was an intelligent and well-educated person, not to mention that he is a wonderful chess-player, and that the LDPR would support his projects.

However, United Russia members are in no hurry to join the movement. Film director and United Russia member Stanislav Govorukhin, who declined to join the movement, also wished Ilyumzhinov every success.

He said Russia used to be a chess power, but that it had now fallen behind in this respect. Govorukhin said it was impossible to create a truly intellectual country without chess. He also wished success to everyone working for this country’s benefit and prosperity.

Former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov, a member of the United Russia parliamentary party, questions the appropriateness of the movement. He contends that chess, like other sports, has always been apolitical.

Political analyst Rostislav Turovsky believes that Ilyumzhinov, who reportedly wants to stage a political comeback, is using this movement to attract attention.

He said the initiative was unlikely to produce any significant results, but that Ilyumzhinov would, nonetheless, attract some attention.

Izvestia has already reported that Ilyumzhinov is in talks with various political forces in order to head the ballot during parliamentary elections in Kalmykia this fall.


Will Duma Expel Pekhtin Over Property in Miami?

Alexei Navalny, who started a foundation to fight corruption in Russia, has reported that United Russia Deputy Vladimir Pekhtin owns property in Miami, which he failed to declare as required by law.

Pekhtin, who heads the lower house commission on parliamentary ethics, reportedly made 2.15 million rubles ($71,260) in 2011, while his wife’s income was 160,700 rubles ($5,330). As of the beginning of 2012, the couple owned 25,000 sq m (6.2 acres) of land, two apartments, two houses, two non-residential buildings, five vehicles, two trailers, a jet ski and a snowmobile.

Navalny published extracts from the Miami-Dade and Duval county property registries showing Pekhtin listed as the co-owner of a $540,000 Flamingo South Beach apartment and a house with a yard and a swimming pool, as well as other property. The co-owner of the assets is the lawmaker’s son, Alexei.

However, Pekhtin failed to mention his US properties in the declarations he was required to file when balloting in 2007 and in 2011 or as a Duma Deputy in 2010 and 20111.

“Although Pekhtin cannot be fired or prosecuted for this, we still want to call attention to the fact that this lawmaker is violating the law,” Navalny said. He sent requests to the Prosecutor General’s Office as well as to State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin asking them to verify the information contained in Pekhtin’s declarations. He also asked United Russia Chairman Dmitry Medvedev and the party’s general council to expel Pekhtin. “It was Medvedev’s initiative to tighten the scrutiny on lawmakers’ declarations,” Navalny pointed out.

Pekhtin denied ownership of any foreign property, explaining that his son who is 35, actually lives the United States and owns some property there.
In September, another whistle-blower, Dmitry Gudkov, demanded that Pekhtin disclose the source of income with which he bought property. However, a Duma commission ruled that the claim was “groundless.”

Only once did Pekhtin include additional income in his declaration – dividends from RAO UES shares he owned in 2006. The stock has never been mentioned since as he has declared only his salary and pension.

The commission will consider the Pekhtin case again. However, the evidence needs to be verified, said Deputy Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak (United Russia).

In any case, no sanctions are anticipated for failure to declare income or property, said Ivan Ninenko from Transparency International Russia.
Pekhtin is the second party member mired in an undeclared property case. Blogger Andrei Malgin earlier wrote that Vladislav Tretyak owned a $1 million apartment in Miami, but the information proved false, Zheleznyak said.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he knew nothing about Navalny’s revelations because he does not follow the blogger’s activity. The evidence, if it’s true, will need to be verified; if it’s a “red herring” it will be ignored. Medvedev’s press secretary Natalia Timakova declined to comment.

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