During a recent heated Russian Presidential debate, candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) accused Pavel Grudinin, the candidate of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation of being a “rich man, a billionaire, a capitalist, an oligarch”.
It appears that the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) now shares Zhirinovsky’s concerns regarding Grudinin. Prior to registering as a Presidential candidate in Russia, all individuals must declare that they do not have off-shore assets. Prior to registering, Grudinin admitted to having foreign band accounts but claimed that they had been shut just prior to registering as a candidate. It has been widely known that he was being dishonest at that time as he still maintained active banks accounts in his name in Switzerland and Austria as of February of this year.
Now, banking authorities in Switzerland have responded to enquiries and alerted the CEC that Grudinin has eleven other previously undeclared Swiss bank accounts, including one account that is comprised entirely of gold. Contrary to some fake news reporting in western mainstream media, Grudinin will not be removed from the list of candidates, but information will be printed at polling centres to inform the public about Grudinin’s undisclosed off-shore assets said to be worth well over $1 million or 56,487,100 in Russian Ruble according to today’s exchange rate. Additionally, Grudinin has been exposed as holding a Latvian residence permit, which is highly controversial given Riga’s poor relations with Moscow and its poor human rights record regarding Russian Latvians.
While the recent Presidential debate became infamous for Zhirinosvky having water hurled on him by comic candidate Ksenia Sobchak, whose function is similar to the defunct Polish Beer Lovers Party or Britain’s Monster Raving Loony Party, it seems that his criticisms of a so-called communist were on the mark.
While Zhirinovsky and Grudinin had been neck and neck at second place according to most polls, recent polling data gives an edge to Zhirinovsky. Incumbent President Vladimir Putin continues to lead polls by a large margin. Elections will take place on 18 March, 2018.