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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Malofeyev Denies Reports of Searches of His Home, Office; Skuratov Says He's Signed Non-Disclosure Statement
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Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeyev and his business partner Dmitry Skuratov have denied media reports about searches held in their homes and offices, Interfax reports: (translation by The Interpreter):

The press service of Konstantin Malofeyev officially denies the information disseminated in a number of Russia media outlets about searches conducted in the homes and offices of the businessman and his business partner Dmitry Skuratov. These reports do not correspondent to reality.

Yet as we reported earlier, Kommersant, a business daily, obtained court records that said Malofeyev had lost his appeal to stop searches of his premises and they had indeed been searched. Kommersant said it couldn't get a comment from Malofeyev.

Meanwhile, Skuratov said that nothing had changed about their status in the case, "We are witnesses," Kommersant quoted him as saying, although he refused to comment on new search or other actions by the investigation, saying that the investigation had made him sign a non-disclosure statement.

In an article titled "American Sanctions Did Not Protect Him from a Search," Kommersant said the Interior Ministry had "unexpectedly activated the investigation into a high-profile case about theft of a loan from VTB Bank for more than $225 million." Kommersant implied they had court records, as they noted that Malofeyev's appeal at Moscow City Court had been lost.

In fact, Malofeyev isn't in the US list of persons sanctioned with regard to the war in Ukraine, but he has been included in the lists of the EU and Canada.

Dmitry Skuratov is the son of Yuri Skuratov, former prosecutor general whose own career ended during the Yeltsin administration in scandal after disclosure of a sex tape.

Malofeyev has been tied to support of the Russian-backed separatists in southeastern Ukraine. Some observers have theorized that if any effort was made to prosecute Malofeyev, it would mean that his protection from Putin had evaporated and now he might be sacrificed if Putin was ostensibly going to rein in the militants in Ukraine. Yet there is no evidence that the Kremlin's support for the rebels has disappeared, or even that Malofeyev is needed to arrange it -- or make it go away. Malofeyev is associated with ultrarightist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin, who was fired from Moscow State University, where Putin is the chairman of the board, for his extreme incitement against Ukrainians. 

So many will be watching to see if any of the cast of characters associated with the "Novorossiya" cause are now removed from the scene or even prosecuted and sent to jail -- although there is nothing to say that it will happen in such lock-step fashion.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick