The fierce struggle for leadership within Russian Agrarian party resulted in an unusual incident where law-enforcers got involved.
Mikhail Lapshin (see the photo) who has been the party leader after the Agrarian Party was established 11 years ago, does not agree to the requests of his colleagues to resign (Agrarian Party lost the Parliamentary elections last December with the result of 3 percent of votes and did not gain seats in the Russian Parliament). In turn, Mr. Lapshin requested Russian Office of Public Prosecutor to initiate criminal proceedings against main sponsor of the party Alexei Chepa. This is the first example in Russia and probably in the world when a party leader thanks his supporter in this way.
Businessman Alexei Chepa approached the Agrarian Party and started sponsoring it before the last Parliamentary elections. Bearing the entire burden of supporting the party, Mr. Chepa became displeased with the work of the party’s “chief manager”. Mr. Lapshin called the businessman claims “indignant” and characterized him as the “moneybag willing to privatize the party”.
The party leader used an unusual way of bringing charges against his party sponsor. At the Party Board meeting in December 2003 Mr. Chepa said, “We spent about $20 million for the election campaign of Agrarian Party”. These statement was recorded and the tape is used as an evidence against the sponsor. Mr. Lapshin informed the Office of Public Prosecutor that “a little more than 37 million roubles ($1.25 million) were transferred in the party account.” This means that the most of the sponsor’s money was allegedly spend outside the election fund, and this fact is malicious wrongdoing. “The party leaders did not authorize anybody to break the law while financing the campaign”, said Mr. Lapshin insisting on starting criminal proceedings against Mr. Chepa.
The extravagant action of the party leader terrified his colleagues. The members of the Agrarian Party say that it would collapse because there are no other sources of finance for the party.