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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dachas scrutinized Party leader denies wrongdoing

Alexander Sterligov, leader of Sober, the Russian National Assembly, used his privileges as a high-ranking member of the former Soviet government to buy luxurious dachas and apartments at bargain prices for himself and his friends, a Russian government minister has charged.

Ella Pamfilova, Russia's minister of social defense, told Komsomolskaya Pravda that Sterligov had practiced "privatization Communism-style" as a member of the staff of Nikolai Ryzhkov, the former Soviet prime minister. Sterligov, who was in charge of property belonging to the Soviet government from 1989-90, used his position for the discount purchase of lavish apartments and dachas originally built for the Communist Party elite, she said. The property was put up for sale under a government program to relinquish some of the party's privileges.

Asked on Monday to comment on the charge, Sterligov denied any wrongdoing.

"Ninety percent of what she said is a lie", he replied. "She should think about doing her real job, like making sure children are provided for", he said. Without providing details, Sterligov insisted that all of his actions as a member of Ryzhkov's staff were "legal".

Pamfilova also warned in her Interview, published Saturday, that continuing corruption in the top echelons of the government presented a major threat to the government of President Boris Yeltsin and its ability to carry out economic reforms.

"If the authorities demand sacrifice from others", she said, "they themselves must set an example and agree to sacrifice their personal welfare".

Pamfilova said that she was "constantly drawing the threat of corruption and money-grubbing to the attention" of Yeltsin, State Secretary Gennady Burbulis and Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, but that they appeared to underestimate it.

"You can't urge people to be patient, to tighten their belts, when the powers that be allow themselves to build plush mansions and make champagne toasts at widely advertised banquets", she said.

Pamfilova, who served on a Soviet parliamentary commission that investigated abuses of power, said Russian legislators were even more privilege-hungry than their predecessors in the Soviet parliament. She has called for the creation of an independent commission to investigate corruption.