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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russia Update: August 18, 2015

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Yakunin, Head of Russian Railways, Long Targeted for Corruption by Opposition, Resigns to Seek Senator's Seat

Vladimir Yakunin, head of Russian Railways and long targeted by the opposition for his seemingly corrupt wealth, has announced his resignation, reported yesterday, August 17. He plans to move to the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia's parliament.

President Vladimir Putin said the move was Yakunin's "personal decision" and said he would speak to him after his vacation, reported.

Yakunin has been reported as fired or resigning a number of times in the past, but this time it has been confirmed by Yakunin himself, said In June, Yakunin dropped a hint that "sooner or later the time will come for me to do something else."

RBC had earlier reported that Yakunin was the main candidate for senator of Kaliningrad Region.

Another source in the government told RBC that Yakunin had looked for another perch for more than six months "from governor to, as it turned out, senator." But another source at Russian Railways said it had come as news that the head was running for senator. The issue of Yakunin's departure was "never even raised or discussed" in the last two years, said the source.

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has relentlessly raised the issue of Yakunin's multiple properties at home and abroad, notably the dacha in Akulinino registered in Cyprus as owned by Yakunin's sons, which cannot be accounted for given his known compensation.

Yakunin notoriously sued Boris Nemtsov for his expose of corrupt dealings around the Sochi Olympics. Yakunin was among the first Russian tycoons close to Putin who were sanctioned for their role in the Crimean annexation.

Reuters ran an in-depth report on Yakunin's empire last year.

An advantage of winning a seat in parliament -- which may not be difficult given the "administrative resources" likely to be deployed in his favor -- is that Yakunin gains immunity from prosecution.

Yakunin served a total of 10 years as head of Russian Railways after being appointed by the Russian Cabinet of Ministers in 2005; his tenure was extended three times.

Translation: Look at what sort of Federation Council is being selected! Yakunin, Mizulina. Dream-team.

Yelena Mizulina, a conservative deputy known for promoting "traditional values," was the speaker of the Duma until she decided to move to the Federation Council earlier this year.

Navalny had little to say about the resignation of a figure he had written numerous blogs about:

Translation: Oh, did they really kick that crook out of Russian Railways? Vedomosti - Vladimir Yakunin may became a senator from Kaliningrad Region.

He has already moved on to his next target -- Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the presidential administration, whom he discovered had spent 26 million rubles ($394,908) renting a yacht called the Maltese Falcon in Sardinia for his honeymoon.

Translation: Navalny discovered that after his post on Peskov's yacht, the geotags quickly went missing from photographs of his daughter Nayavka.
Translation: Navalny cites new evidence of Peskov's vacation on the Maltese Falcon yacht.

Translation: here's some more, from comments to the post

Navalny sleuthed the social media of Peskov's relatives to find his step-daughter wearing the yacht's robe.

Peskov denied he had rented a yacht.

Translation: When Peskov is simply silent, it works out better for him.

Meanwhile, Oleg Navalny, Alexey's brother, has been thrown in a punishment cell in labor camp for 12 days.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick