The scandal with the criminal prosecution of the son of the governor of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, Alexander Uss, may affect the course of the gubernatorial elections in the region, experts interviewed by Vedomosti believe.
Uss Jr. was detained on October 17 at Milan airport at the request of the United States. In addition to him, Russians Yuri Orekhov, Svetlana Kuzurgasheva, Timofey Telegin and Sergey Tulyakov, as well as citizens of Venezuela – oil traders Juan Fernando Serrano Ponce and Juan Carlos Soto were detained. The US Department of Justice accuses them of evading sanctions and money laundering. If found guilty, they face up to 30 years in prison. On October 25, the Milan Prosecutor General’s Office formulated an indictment for the extradition of Uss, but the Milan court has not yet made a decision on extradition.
After the detention in Milan, a criminal case against Uss Jr. was also initiated in Russia. He was accused of money laundering by an organized group on an especially large scale (clauses “a”, “b” of part 4 of article 174 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), after which the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow arrested him in absentia for two months. On January 16, Uss Jr. asked for extradition to Russia. The Russian side sent a corresponding request to the Milan court along with the United States, TASS reported. According to the agency, the decision on this issue has been postponed, since the lawyers of the Russian are currently figuring out under what articles and under what conditions their client will be sued if he is extradited to the United States.
Political scientist Sergei Komaritsyn doubts the possibility of extradition of Uss Jr. to Russia. He recalled that Nikolai Kovalenko, the ex-head of the Krasnoyarsk construction company Restavratsiya, against whom a criminal case was initiated in the fall of 2018, was never extradited by Italy to Russia. “It was a long time ago, before the international escalation (in the spring of 2022), and was not associated with any sanctions. Italy is reluctant to betray even in this case, and one can doubt that this time it will be somehow different, ”Komaritsyn believes.
When resolving extradition requests, the following main criteria are applied: clarity and reasonableness of the request (in this case, the factual validity of the accusation is not included in the subject of verification), provision by the requesting state of the necessary guarantees for the observance of the rights of the accused after extradition, including guarantees of non-expansion of the scope of the accusation compared to that specified in request, observance of the principle of double criminality (the act charged to the accused in the requesting state must also be criminal under the laws of the state authorizing the extradition request), as well as the absence of signs of persecution of the accused for improper motives unrelated to the goals of justice (political, corruption, etc.). . p.), Vadim Klyuvgant, partner at Pen & Paper, lists.
If the State authorizing the request finds that any of these criteria are not met, it will refuse to extradite the requested person, he notes.
“If the accused does not object to extradition to the requesting state and there are no grounds for doubting the voluntary nature of his desire, then the verification of the request is greatly facilitated, but its compliance with the formal criteria is still checked. When extradition requests from different states compete against the same person, the order in which they are received, the nature and gravity of the charges, and the degree of justification of the requests are taken into account. The degree of respect for the rule of law in each of the requesting states may also be taken into account,” Klyuvgant said. As a result of the check, one of the requests may be granted, but both may be rejected.
In Russia, Uss Jr. could face up to seven years in prison. The legalization of money acquired by other persons by criminal means belongs to the category of serious crimes, the expert says. “Ch. 4 tbsp. 174 of the Criminal Code provides for the presence of qualifying features: especially large size – more than 6 million rubles. or the commission of a crime by an organized group. The presence of at least one of these features must also be proven,” Klyuvgant said.
The scandal “heats up the situation” before the end of his term in September 2023, although it may not directly affect the career prospects of the head of the region, Mikhail Vinogradov, head of the Petersburg Politics Foundation, believes. “Now the main challenge is related to the fact that the end of Uss’s term of office will be in the fall. In a different situation, the incident with his son would not have been so noticeable, but now we need to make a decision – to leave him for a new term or replace him, ”he told Vedomosti.
A criminal case in Russia could only be initiated with the aim of extraditing a suspect to the Russian Federation, suggests Ilya Grashchenkov, director of the Center for the Development of Regional Policy: “It looks like if he ends up in Russia, the case will be quickly payment. The system is interested in uniting the elites, and for this you should not put pressure on sore points.”
Even the conviction of Uss Jr. would not have been an obstacle for his father to take the post of governor, lawyer Andrei Primak believes. “If we consider the issue of a close relative’s conviction and election to public office, then Russian legislation does not actually regulate it in any way. The law clearly defines the information when and if there is a criminal record under which articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation a person will not be able to become a candidate for elected positions on his own,” he told Vedomosti.
Parents cannot be held legally responsible for the actions of their adult sane children, Klyuvgant continues. Thus, formally, the presence of a criminal record in an adult son cannot be a legal basis for restricting the rights of parents. “But this circumstance, for example, may be the basis for the removal of such a person from the duties of a juror. When deciding on the issue of appointing a person to a public position, of course, his connections, including criminal and corruption risks emanating from his environment, must be taken into account and assessed,” he stressed.
Uss’s term of office ends in September 2023. At the end of 2022, in a television interview, he evaded a direct answer about re-election, but indirectly confirmed his readiness to participate in the elections, saying that he would “work as long as the president and fellow countrymen from Krasnoyarsk decide.” Komaritsyn believes that the scandal with his son creates emotional discomfort for the politician, but this factor is unlikely to become a key factor in the decision to nominate him for a new term. Grashchenkov clarifies that the situation may be perceived negatively by voters against the background of the general course towards the nationalization of the elites. But “far from all of them will get this information so that it could influence something,” he added.
This situation (with the persecution of his son in the West) will not fundamentally affect his position as a member of the administrative vertical, says Yevgeny Minchenko, president of the Minchenko and Consulting communications holding. “Rather, efforts are being made to free the guy. As far as I know, this is a matter of empathy and empathy. But the topic is already being actively pumped on social networks in the Krasnoyarsk Territory,” he told Vedomosti. “But Uss is an experienced apparatchik with good connections and, perhaps, has the potential to fight for the retention of his post, especially since this is one of the key regions of the country and it is not clear whether the federal center is ready in the current force majeure situation to change a more understandable figure for a less understandable one,” Vinogradov said.