Russian Businessman Charged with Fraud. Illegal Financial Schemes or Politically Grounded Case?
Vasiliy Popov, a Russian businessman from Petrozavodsk and one of the leaders of the opposition party “Yabloko” in the Republic of Karelia, is charged in Russia with fraud on a large scale. He was arrested in Joensuu, Finland, in August 2015, where he resided at the moment of the arrest, and was released the next day after signing the statement.
Earlier in spring he was arrested in absentia by the Petrozavodsk district court on charges “fraud with munitipal property” after his wife, a delegate of the Legislative Assembly of Karelia, Anastasiya Kravchuk, bought the buildings of the enterprise “Petropit”. Then he was put on the international warrant list.
In October, 2015, Russian General Prosecutor sent a request to the Finnish Central Criminal Police for extradition of the Russian politician. Popov claims, that he has been a victim of the prosecution of the Russian government since 2013. That year, the opposition candidate, Galina Shirshina, won the mayor elections in Petrozavodsk. She was supported by Vasiliy Popov financially and in organizational matters. After the elections, the members of “Yabloko”
fell victims of the state persecution. Vasiliy Popov assumes that Alexander Hudilainen, the head of the Republic of Carelia, aims at substitution of the current mayor and reprisals against members of the opposition.
Finnish authorities stated in December that the final decision on extradition of Vasiliy Popov will be made by December 25, but there are still no news about his further stay in Finland. Popov claimed that in case of the positive decision, he will appeal to the court, because, in his opinion, the case is politically motivated.
The case of Petrozavodsk selling was closed. Popov was found guilty in inflicting material damage to the state, though his name does not appear in the case. The local authorities explained that there was no possibility to accuse Popov personally because he is out of the country. Though the preventive punishment was determinted in absentia - Vasiliy Popov will be arrested as soon as he crosses the Russian border for further investigation.