A Russian politician was arrested in parliament in the middle of a session on Wednesday in connection with several murders, an official and news reports said.
Rauf Arashukov, a 32-year-old senator representing the Karachayevo-Cherkessia region of Russia’s Northern Caucasus, is a suspect in the 2010 murders of two people and of pressuring a witness to one of the killings, according to investigators.
He allegedly acted as part of an organised group that included his father Raul Arashukov, said a statement by the Russian Investigative Committee.
Raul Arashukov was arrested as well later in the day on charges of embezzlement.
Rauf Arashukov was on the senate floor when police officers entered and read out a warrant, according to senate speaker Valentina Matviyenko.
"He tried to get up and leave the session. I told him to sit down," she told state television. Parliamentary journalists did not witness the arrest as the cameras were turned off without explanation, said a correspondent for Rossiya 24 state TV.
Investigators named the murder victims as Aslan Zhukov, an activist with an organisation representing the Circassian ethnic minority, and Fral Shebzukhov, an advisor to the governor of Arashukov’s Karachayevo-Cherkessia region. Both were shot dead in 2010, on separate occasions.
Raul Arashukov, in turn, is also being investigated for the murder of Boris Khapsirokov, a businessman from the Rostov region who was killed in the 1990s.
Russian media first reported the probe connecting the senator and his father to at least five different murders in September 2018. The politician’s spokespeople said the allegations were groundless.
In the meantime, the Investigative Committee announced plans to detain four more people in connection with the embezzlement charges brought against Raul Arashukov.
One of the four people to be detained is Ruslan Arashukov, Rauf’s cousin. Ruslan Arashukov did not immediately respond to a request for comment. All four detained are top managers at several gas companies in the North Caucasus.
Raul Arashukov, investigators claim, had them procure more gas than the region needed and sold what was left. According to the Investigative Committee, he embezzled 30 billion rubles (£348 million) worth of gas.