Russian senator arrested on double murder charges

During a plenary session of Russia’s Federation Council on Wednesday, Rauf Arashukov, the youngest senator in Russian history, was arrested on charges of organizing contract killings and other serious crimes.

Law enforcement blocked the entrance to the hall and made the press leave, after which Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee, entered the hall and read out the order to remove Arashukov’s parliamentary immunity.

Arashukov attempted to flee upstairs, but Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko advised him not to resist,  RBC news agency reports, citing an account of an eyewitness.

The Investigative Committee reported that Arashukov’s complicity had been established in two contract killings, that of Aslan Zhukov, a youth movement leader, and that of Fral Shebzukhov, an aide to the head of Karachay-Cherkessia, the northern Caucasus region where the young senator hails from. Arashukov was also charged with stealing natural gas from Gazprom.

The senator’s father, Raul, was arrested at the same time, for involvement in “the embezzlement of more than 30 billion rubles of natural gas”, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

If the charges are confirmed, this will be Arashukov senior’s third conviction. The first two from the 1980s, for the embezzlement of 4 tons of grain and 5 tons of sunflower seeds, did not prevent him from serving as the CEO of the Pyatigorsk branch of Mezhregiongaz. He appointed his 24 year-old son as his deputy in 2010, the same year the contract killings were carried out.

After two years of working with his father in the gas sector, Rauf Arashukov spent three years moving between various local government positions. In 2016, he made it into national government, being appointed a member of the Federation Council and its Economic Policy Committee, despite his lack of economic education.

Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenkov lamented that the charges against Arashukov junior are “extremely serious”.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin has “nothing to add” to the charges made by the Investigative Committee.

Over the last 10 years, 12 Federation Council members have been convicted of various crimes, including murder and rape. Another 4 senators are on the wanted list.

  Russia, Russian Federation council, Investigative Committee of Russia, Kremlin