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Official Allegedly Linked To Attack On Journalist Gets High-Level Post In Russian Parliament

Andrei Turchak attends a press conference in Pskov on October 13.
Andrei Turchak attends a press conference in Pskov on October 13.

A former regional governor who has been accused of ordering an attack on a prominent journalist has become a deputy chairman of Russia's upper house of parliament.

Fellow lawmakers in the Federation Council elected Andrei Turchak, who was governor of the western Pskov Oblast from 2009 until last month, on November 8.

His candidacy was proposed by Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko, who called him an "excellent person."

Both Turchak and Matviyenko are members of the Kremlin-controlled United Russia party, which holds a majority in both chambers of parliament and dominates politics nationwide.

Shortly after he resigned as governor in October, Turchak was appointed acting secretary-general of United Russia by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Ahead of the Federation Council vote, lawmaker Lyudmila Narusova asked Turchak why he had never been questioned over an attack on independent journalist Oleg Kashin, who was brutally beaten with metal rods by two men outside his home in November 2010.

Days after the attack, the wife of one of the alleged assailants said that Turchak ordered her husband to attack Kashin in retaliation for critical articles he wrote. Turchak denies it, and the case -- like many involving sometimes deadly violence against journalists who challenge those in power in Russia -- has not been solved.

Responding to Narusova's question, Turchak said he had given all the information he has about the attack to investigators and the media.

"You have false information regarding the investigations related to that case," he said. "I would suggest that you rely on original sources and not on opinions, rumors, and gossip."

Narusova is the mother of Ksenia Sobchak, a prominent socialite, journalist, and TV personality who announced in October that she will run in the March 2018 election in which President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win a new term.

With reporting by Kommersant and Interfax
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