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Prosecutor of Karachay–Cherkessia ‘fired over Arashukovs affair’

9 April 2019
Aleksandr Tereshchenko (Still from video)

The Prosecutor of Karachay–Cherkessia has been dismissed from his post, reportedly over his connection to the Arashukov family, three members of which were arrested in January.

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office announced on 2 April that President Vladimir Putin had dismissed Aleksandr Tereshchenko as prosecutor of Karachay–Cherkessia.

Tereshchenko had held the position since his appointment as acting prosecutor in 2014.

According to Russian media, his dismissal was connected to the January arrests of Raul, Rauf, and Ruslan Arashukov. RBK cited sources ‘close to the leadership of Karachay–Cherkessia’ as saying that Tereshchenko was close to Rauf Arashukov, a Russian senator for Karachay–Cherkessia, and his father Raul, who was director of Gazprom Mezhregiongaz, a subsidiary of the Russian gas giant managing regional distributors.

Both were arrested in January, the former over a double murder and the latter for the alleged large-scale theft of natural gas.

[Read on OC Media: Russian senator for Karachay–Cherkessia arrested over double murder]

Russian state-run media portal PASMI wrote that thanks to ‘friends’ in at the head of local law enforcement agencies, Raul and Rauf Arashukov ‘for many years avoided punishment for their crimes’.

Ties between Tereshchenko and the Arashukov family began to be discussed immediately after Tereshchenko became prosecutor for the republic. Rauf Arashukov was the first to congratulate Tereshchenko on his new appointment.

According to Russian federal news agency Rosbalt, in 2016, the mother of Rustam Shebzukhov spoke out about the ‘influence’ she said Rauf Arashukov had over the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the republic’s investigative committee. Shebzukhov, along with his pregnant wife, disappeared in 2006 following a quarrel with one of Rauf Arashukov’s guards.

Shebzukhov’s mother claimed that a proper investigation was not conducted due to the influence of the Arashukov clan on investigators. During the investigation, Tereshchenko was widely referred to in the republic as the ‘personal prosecutor of the Arashukovs’.

The ‘Corruption Net’

Local journalist Marat Tlepshev told OC Media that ‘there is still no direct evidence that the leadership of the prosecutor’s office and the Investigative Committee of Karachay–Cherkessia tried to hide the name of Rauf Arashukov as soliciting the murders of Rustam Shebzukhov and his wife Ruzanna Meliktesyan (2006), as well as Aslan Zhukov and Fral Shebzukhov (March-May 2010)’.

However, according to him, ‘everyone who lives in the republic understands the reasons why [the Investigative Committee] and the prosecutor’s office of Karachay–Cherkessia did not investigate the possible version of events involving Arashukov’.

Tlepshev said that those who should have investigated who was behind the murders had made themselves accomplices. He said that the Arashukov case would ‘help to identify a corruption network in law enforcement agencies’ in both Karachay–Cherkessia and in Russia.

According to Tlepshev, many have resigned recently in the Karachay–Cherkessia’s prosecutor’s office and police as a way to try and ‘avoid fair retribution’. He believes that ‘they will not be able to walk freely for long, because the signal to investigate the Arashukov crimes was given from the very top of the Russian power vertical’.

Double killing

Aslan Zhukov was shot in the courtyard of his house in March 2010. Friends and relatives claimed at the time that he was murdered because of his public activism.

Zhukov’s sister said that shortly before his death, her brother told her about a disagreement with Rauf Arashukov.

According to her, Arashukov had asked Zhukov to organise young people to storm Karachay–Cherkessia’s parliament to disrupt a session. Aslan recorded the conversation and released it online.

Zhukov’s relatives said Arashukov repeatedly threatened him after this.

This version of events was confirmed by Rasul Adzhiyev, who was cleared of the murder in 2012.

Adzhiyev handed himself in to the Investigative Committee in August, confessing to the crime and testifying that Rauf Arashukov had ordered the murder through an intermediary — his son-in-law Ruslan Agoyev.

Fral Shebzukhov, an advisor to the then-president of Karachay–Cherkessia Boris Ebzeyev, was shot dead in May 2010.

Just before his killing, Ebzeyev had nominated Shebzukhov as chair of the Government of Karachay–Cherkessia and introduced him to the local parliament for approval.

Shebzukhov’s brother, Murat Shebzukhov, told the Russian Federal News Agency that Arashukov ordered the murder to get rid of a political competitor.

According to Murat, an unknown group of people attacked the two of them with bats, injuring Murat. After the beating, he said the attackers shot Fral.

Ruslan Shebzukhov, another of Fral’s brothers, told Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets that he also blamed Rauf Arashukov for his brother’s murder.

Three people were convicted of Shebzukhov’s murder, and sentenced to 14–19 years in prison. One of the three testified that a fourth man, Rustam Kopsergenov, organised the murder on behalf of Arashukov.

[Read more on OC Media: Relatives of slain public figures in Karachay–Cherkessia demand senator be brought to justice for ordering killings]