Suspects Arrested on Deputy Sergey Yushenkov's Assassination

The FSB has arrested both the client and the assassins

The Office of the Prosecutor General of Russia has recently confirmed the arrest of the third suspect on the case of deputy Sergey Yushenkov's assassination - Mikhail Kodanev, a cochairman of the Liberal Russia party.  Kodanev was arrested on June 26th in the town of Kudymkar, the Komi-Permyatsky autonomous region, where he had arrived to participate in an official meeting.

Two other suspects were detained last Thursday in the city of Syktyvkar, the Komi republic: Kulachinsky and Kiselev. Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov said, they were the two assassins. The arrested men have already been charged with committing an assassination.

Valentina Dubrovskikh, head of the Komi-Permyatsky regional division of Liberal Russia said that Kodanev and his bodyguard had been arrested at about 3:30 a.m. local time in a Kudymkar-based hotel. Mikhail Kodanev expected to be arrested. He said in an interview to the Vremya Novostey newspaper: "My friends from Moscow called me and said that the FSB had ordered to have me arrested." Kodanev rejected all allegations: "I had nothing to do with the party's financial affairs, and I saw Sergey Yushenkov only three times in my life. I am not hiding from anyone, I am staying in my hotel and I am ready to answer any questions. They have already found the assassins, now they will make me a client, who ordered it."

Mikhail Kodanev's arrest did not become a surprise for the Liberal Russia leadership. Viktor Pokhmelkin, the party's chairman, said that the information to confirm Kodanev's implication in the assassination had been obtained from oligarch Boris Berezovsky's people. "I have nothing to do with the arrest, because I have nothing to do with law-enforcement bodies. I have learned about Mikhail Kodanev's implication in Yushenkov's assassination from Berezovsky's people. Yushenkov and Kodanev had no relations, but Mr. Kodanev was running for the leadership," Viktor Pokhmelkin said.

Alexander Lebedev, chairman of the Liberal Russia's executive committee, said that Mikhail Kodanev offered him money in the autumn of the last year, if he agreed to take Boris Berezovsky's side. "I was Sergey Yushenkov's assistant at that time, and I answered that I was not willing to betray my friends. I did not have any contacts with Kodanev anymore," Lebedev said.

Sergey Yushenkov was an obstacle for Kodanev in the struggle for Liberal Russia's leader. At any rate, Pokhmelkin and Lebedev thought so. Sergey Yushenkov was an experienced politician, he started his activities in 1989. Mikhail Kodanev is a bright example of an unlucky person.  He has been trying to win elections many times, he ran for the Komi republic governor, a member in the republic's State Council, but all his attempts failed. In 2001, during the election of the Komi governor, he won only 2.01 percent of the vote. Kodanev ranked sixth among eight candidacies. Speaking of Kodanev's membership in Russian parties, he acted as an independent deputy in the political life of the Komi republic. In 1995, he joined the Democratic Choice of Russia, but remained the party's member only for several months. He pulled out from the party and became an independent political figure, cooperating with people from various factions, including the communist party. Despite the active political life, he only managed to take office of a deputy in the Syktyvkar's municipal council.

Could a person with such an experience become a rival for Sergey Yushenkov? Of course, he could not. The popularity of a Russian party directly depends on the popularity of its leader. Kodanev was not a popular person at all.

Sergey Yushenkov would turn 53 on June 27th. Maybe, the commotion around the client and the two assassins has been caused with this date.  Apparently, Boris Berezovsky is working on something. His mass media outlets will probably publish articles, accusing the Kremlin of the messy situation. If it is true, it means that Boris Gryzlov's PR action has killed two birds with one stone: it improved the Interior Ministry's image and deprived Berezovsky of his trump card.

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Author`s name Olga Savka