Segodnya” today reported that in St. Petersburg’s legislative assembly elections, scheduled for December 6, at least one representative of the “criminal world” is running in each of the city’s fifty districts. According to the newspaper, the Tambovskaya criminal group–the city’s most powerful–is running the most candidates. In one district where a Tambovskaya leader, Andrei Rybkin, is running, Anatoly Ponidelko–the former head of the St. Petersburg police who accused St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev of having Tambovskaya members in his entourage–is also running, Segodnya reported. The newspaper quoted Yuri Shchekochikhin, a member of the State Duma’s security committee representing the Yabloko faction, as saying that St. Petersburg “has become a training ground for criminal groups and a center of corruption.”
The daily also quoted some St. Petersburg democratic activists that investigation of the Starovoitova murder is being led locally by the same official who led a search last March of the home of Ruslan Linkov, Starovoitova’s aide who severely wounded in the shooting. “Segodnya” reported that the search, which was carried out on the orders of the federal Prosecutor General’s Office, was made in connection with a criminal case against the heads of the “Russian Video” television company. Linkov later said the investigators were particularly interested in papers from his archives which mentioned former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak and Anatoly Chubais, an ally of Sobchak and former Russian privatization chief (Segodnya, November 24). Another newspaper reported that the search had been carried out in connection with negative articles which Linkov, who is a journalist, had written about St. Petersburg Governor Yakovlev. The St. Petersburg police said Monday it would take “unprecedented measures” to find Starovoitova’s killers (Russian agencies, November 23). Meanwhile, NTV television reported today that a member of St. Petersburg’s legislative assembly was shot last night, but survived (NTV, November 24). The main federal agency involved in the investigation is the Federal Security Service (FSB). Financier Boris Berezovsky, along with several members of a now-defunct FSB sub-unit, recently charged that top FSB officials ordered the murder of Berezovsky, as well as other officials and businessmen. In response, another group of FSB officers from the unit in question held a press conference last week, in which they denied the charges and countered that their accusers, the first group of FSB officers, had themselves been involved in contract killings (Russian agencies, November 20-22). The human rights group Amnesty International released a statement yesterday in which it said that an agency other than the FSB should be in charge of the Starovoitova investigation (Moscow Times, November 24).
Galina Starovoitova’s funeral is scheduled for today in St. Petersburg. A memorial service was held there this morning, and was attended by Anatoly Chubais, former Acting Premier Yegor Gaidar and former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, among others. St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev did not attend: His office reported that he is ill and not in St. Petersburg. Yesterday Yakovlev’s office released a statement expressing its sorrow over Starovoitova’s death (NTV, November 24).
CHINESE RUSSIAN SUMMIT.