Russian opposition leader criticises Swiss attorney general

Russian Opposition leader Alexei Navalny at a rally in Russia on July 20, 2019 Keystone / Sergei Ilnitsky

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has criticised in a newspaper interview the Swiss Attorney General’s Office (OAG) for having ‘too close contact’ with the Russian Prosecutor General’s office.

This content was published on May 31, 2020

In comments External linkmade to Sunday’s SonntagsZeitung,External link Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and strong critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that personal and tight contact between the two offices had slowed or even halted important investigations into alleged money laundering cases in Switzerland.

The OAGExternal link has denied these allegations.

Contacts and trips

Navalny cited as examples a boat trip attended by Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber – currently under fire for his handling of a FIFA corruption probe - and a hunting trip in Russia made by a former Russia specialist from the Swiss Federal Office of Police. The Swiss official was later fined over the hunting trip, which he has appealed. The court case is in session on Tuesday.

+ Read more about the hunting trip case here

Navalny also highlighted the case of Artyom Chaika, the son of the former Russian Attorney General Yuri Chaika, who came to Geneva a few years ago “with $2 million”. Nobody asked any questions, Navalny claimed. The opposition leader continued that he had alerted the OAG to the circumstances, but was told there would be no investigation.

OAG response

In response to Navalny’s allegations, the OAG denied that cases had been dropped out of consideration for the Russians.

“The OAG carries out criminal and judicial assistance proceedings based solely on the relevant legal foundation and not with any political focus, nor are its actions based on the suggested ‘too close’ contacts between involved persons and/or attorney general offices of the two countries,” it stated to the SonntagsZeitung.

On the Chaika case, the Federal Office of Police had investigated but found no concrete evidence or money laundering or of a criminal origin to the money, the OAG said.

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