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Investigators Revisit Latest 'Golden Youth' Case Amid Outrage

  • Carl Schreck

Ruslan Shamsuarov, the son of a LUKoil vice president, has been jailed for 15 days in what a prominent expert on the Russian elite told Reuters was "the first case of its kind during Putin's tenure that I can recall which the authorities are not trying to sweep under the carpet."

Ruslan Shamsuarov, the son of a LUKoil vice president, has been jailed for 15 days in what a prominent expert on the Russian elite told Reuters was "the first case of its kind during Putin's tenure that I can recall which the authorities are not trying to sweep under the carpet."

Threatening to slash police officers during a traffic stop might be expected to invite criminal charges. But during an incident last month in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania in Russia's restive North Caucasus region, the apparently drunk young woman wielding the knife pulled out a trump card.

"Let me call my dad so he can f*** all of you up," Kamilla Kumekhova, who was a passenger in the car, screamed at the officers as they tried to pull her from the car in the republic's capital, Vladikavkaz.

There was some logic to Kumekhova's gambit: Her father, according to media reports, is Ruslan Kumekhov, a former senior prosecutor in the region. And the children of Russia's ruling elite have a long record of extricating themselves from sticky legal situations -- often stirring grassroots outrage.

This week, it appeared Kumekhova may get off scot-free for the May 1 incident, which prompted regional authorities to launch a probe after a video of the standoff was posted on the Internet.

The state-run RIA Novosti news agency quoted a spokesperson for the local Investigative Committee as saying on June 7 that no criminal case would be opened because Kumekhova "did not present a real threat to the police officers."

But the political winds may not be blowing right now in favor of the children of Russia's rich and well-connected, commonly known as the "golden youth."

Moscow police chief Anatoly Yakunin in May vowed to "put an end forever to the outrageous behavior of our golden youth who spit on people."

"They think they can buy everything and everyone with money but they are wrong," he said.

Yakunin's announcement was aimed at Ruslan Shamsuarov, the son of a senior Russian oil executive. Shamsuarov and his friends earlier that month had led police on a hazardous car chase in his Mercedes-Benz G-Class through the streets (and a playground) of Moscow.

Video footage of the chase filmed by Shamsuarov and his friends in the car was later posted on the Internet, sparking widespread anger over the impunity with which they violated the law.

After initially being handed a fine, Shamsuarov was jailed for 15 days in what a prominent expert on the Russian elite told Reuters was "the first case of its kind during Putin's tenure that I can recall which the authorities are not trying to sweep under the carpet."

Of course, anticorruption drives during Russian President Vladimir Putin's 16 years in power have been announced numerous times and seemingly petered out quietly.

Hours after RIA Novosti reported that police had declined to launch a criminal case against Kumekhova, the news agency published a follow-up item stating that the regional Investigative Committee branch had "canceled" that earlier decision by a lower branch of the agency.

The case materials have been sent back for further review, RIA Novosti quoted a regional Investigative Committee spokesperson as saying.

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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