Aleksandr Shokhin, head of the Our Home is Russia faction in the State Duma, responded publicly yesterday to an article published in the latest issue of the tabloid monthly “Sovershenno sekretno” (Top Secret), which alleges that he was among the people who ordered the April 1994 murder of Otari Kvantrishvili, who was allegedly Moscow’s top organized crime boss. The article quotes from what it says is a top secret file from the criminal investigation of Kvantrishvili’s murder. This file includes the testimony of Ivan Vorontsov, another alleged participant in the plot. Vorontsov allegedly described the planning of the murder in detail, including a meeting in the office of Shokhin, at the time a deputy prime minister. According to “Sovershenno sekretno,” Shokhin and his brother, a businessman, were part of the plot against the alleged Georgian mobster, the motive for which was to eliminate a powerful business competitor who was expanding his sphere of influence into the state apparatus. Kvantrishvili was killed by a sniper who, “Sovershenno sekretno” alleges, was a former member of “Vympel,” one of Russia’s “spetsnaz” special operations units (Sovershenno sekretno, No. 12, 1998).
Shokhin said Wednesday (December 9) that the article was not only an attempt to discredit him as a politician, but to direct the wrath of Kvantrishvili’s friends and relatives toward him. Shokhin said he now fears for his safety and that of his family. Shokhin sent a letter Tuesday (December 8) to various officials, including Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov, Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and various Moscow law enforcement officials asking, among other things, why he heard about his alleged participation in the murder plot only now, and through the press. The newspaper “Segodnya” today noted that the “kompromat”–compromising materials–against Shokhin come at a time when Russia is Our Home is busy looking for allies in the run-up to next year’s parliamentary vote. Shokhin has made overtures to Otechestvo, Luzhkov’s new centrist bloc. “Segodnya” noted that Shokhin recently warned that a wave of kompromat could be expected against Luzhkov (Segodnya, December 10).
KIRIENKO FIZZLES AT HARVARD.