Chahmahchyan getting ready for a well-deserved "vacation"
This week the parliament of Kalmyk region was asked to fire their federal Senator Levon Chahmahchyan, so that the FSB could press charges when he is no longer immune from prosecution. Among other crimes, the Senator was caught carrying $300,000 cash out of the offices of the local company "Transaero", for whom he had been doing favors. The hundred dollar bills were marked this time, and his suitcase was full of them, stacked neatly just like in a Hollywood movie.
Senator Chahmahchyan is of Armenian origin. The Armenian mafia has always been very powerful in Russia. Many Armenians are dominant players in the construction business which is booming in major Russian cities. Several Armenians are close business partners with Moscow Mayor Luzhkov's wife, who along with her husband has become a billionaire during his term in office.
Chahmahchyan's son in law is a senior official at the Russian Ministry of Finance. When he was first caught, Chahmahchya joked that this was just a political game between him and "Transaero" executives, but later in the day his son in law was arrested as well. The Senator had just been elected the day before as the new president of the Russian Armenian Association.
Marked bills - the new standard for a Russian bribe
The Governor of Kalmykia, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, doesn't want to get involved in the criminal case. Ilyumzhinov "doesn't feel sorry for the Senator who got caught and thinks that the Federal Assembly knows what it's doing." Governor Ilyumzhinov is quite a character himself; he is a very stylish billionaire, who has ruled the state of Kalmykia for a decade without worrying about the Russian Constitution, which imposes term limits. The Governor fancies $5,000 neck ties, $20,000 suits, riding white horses, and playing chess - everyone in Kalmykia is required to play chess.
Elsewhere in Russia, corruption is causing unrest in the city of Perm. Yesterday the citizens rushed into the City Council building with the mayor inside. These angry citizens are trying to cancel construction in their state park, which started few days ago. The state park near the city is the only public space where Perm citizens can enjoy the outdoors and fresh air; however, the park was leased by the city to a construction company which is fencing off a major part of it for building multi-million dollar homes. The homebuilders' clients include the local judge, mayor, chief of police, general prosecutor, the Orthodox priest and other respectable mafia leaders in the region.
Local conservationists tried to block development by filing a lawsuit, however the future home-owner/judge decided that there was nothing wrong with fencing off this piece of public property and building on it. This has been done many times before in many other Russian regions. Russia Blog wishes the best of luck to the citizens of Perm and feels sorry for them.