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26 Jul, 2021 11:45

Leading Russian Communist politician Grudinin barred from running in election after ex-wife reveals hidden foreign investments

Leading Russian Communist politician Grudinin barred from running in election after ex-wife reveals hidden foreign investments

Russia’s Central Electoral Commission has barred former Communist presidential candidate Pavel Grudinin from running in this fall’s parliamentary elections after his ex-wife blew the whistle on an undeclared investment in Belize.

Grudinin is the director of Lenin State Farm, a 2,000-hectare sprawl of land growing fruits and vegetables on the outskirts of Moscow. After working there for over a decade, he gained control of the enterprise in 1995, which helped him to become a millionaire. In 2018, he was selected by the Communist Party as its presidential candidate. This choice proved to be controversial within the Russian left, as many believed a bourgeois business-owner shouldn’t be the Communist candidate.

His candidacy was also marred by scandal following accusations that he had hidden foreign bank accounts and the revelation that he had a secret second family.

Also on rt.com Hero to zero? Former Communist presidential candidate Grudinin may go bankrupt after $15 million judgement

Grudinin, despite representing a systemic party, is known for being a vocal Kremlin critic. In 2018, he polled as Russia’s second most trusted opposition politician, behind far-right Liberal Democratic Party veteran MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and ahead of the now-jailed figure Alexey Navalny. Since then, the scandals have caused his trust rating to plummet. Now, the controversial figure has been stopped from furthering his career in politics, having been banned from running in the 2021 Duma election after his ex-wife Irina Grudinina provided documents to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) showing that he owns undeclared shares in Bontro Ltd., a Belize-based company.

According to Russian electoral law, candidates must close foreign accounts before being nominated and must no longer keep money or valuables in foreign banks located outside the country.

Furthermore, on July 23, Grudinina wrote to CEC head Ella Pamfilova, asking her to stop her ex-husband from being elected as an MP, alleging that he wants to be a parliamentarian so he can get immunity from prosecution.

At a meeting of the CEC, Grudinin categorically denied having any accounts or assets abroad.

Also on rt.com Russia may grant ex-presidents immunity from prosecution & ban ministers from holding foreign bank accounts

“Someone is deliberately trying to mislead the Prosecutor General’s Office and the CEC,” he said. “The Communist Party is an opposition party. It has scared someone, someone is afraid of the great effect of uniting the left forces.”

According to Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader, the decision to bar Grudinin is “illegal, unlawful and abnormal.” This is not the first time the controversial figure has been stopped from entering parliament. In 2019, following the death of MP Zhores Alferov, Grudinin was selected to replace him in the Duma. However, the CEC refused to admit him, citing his foreign bank accounts.

The 2021 State Duma elections will be held in September and will see parties compete for the 450 seats in parliament. In the previous election, in 2016, the Communist Party came in second place behind United Russia, led by former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.

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