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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Cracks Down On Deputies' Aides

The State Duma has enlisted the help of the police in seizing outdated identification cards from the lower house's thousands of sometimes shady aides.

Though the crackdown is aimed at cutting travel expenses, one Duma deputy conceded Tuesday it might help cut down on the number of passes held by criminals.

Moscow police said they have confiscated eight outdated IDs. New Duma rules require aides to exchange old passes for ones that spell out exactly what the aides do for the deputies.

One man found carrying such a pass, Magomed Akmedov, was taken into custody Sunday after it was learned that he was wanted on a criminal warrant for fraud in Dagestan, Moscow police said.

The passes have become a frequent subject of scandal because a number of unpaid aides, of which deputies can appoint any number, have turned out to have criminal backgrounds. Since February 1996, at least 14 deputy's aides have been murdered, generally in gangland-style slayings.

Estimates of the number of aides to the 450 deputies range from 15,000 to 20,000, most of which are unpaid. The passes offer the holder free public transportation and access to the offices of government bureaucrats. The Moscow city government has complained to the Duma that the passes give criminals more opportunity to pressure municipal officials.

Boris Moiseyev, deputy chairman of the working group on rules, said the review is intended mainly to curtail travel expenses. Unlike paid aides, unpaid aides are not entitled to free plane and train tickets. The new IDs will specify who is paid and who is unpaid.

He said the new rule requires deputies to review who is working for them and will help forestall cases such as that of one deputy who was surprised to learn he had more than 100 aides.

"It permits the deputy to pay some attention to who is working for him, to examine the matter again," Moiseyev said.

The new rule does not, however, curtail the number of unpaid aides, despite a proposal from Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov's staff last year to limit the number to 10 or 15.

The measure is being carried out with considerable strictness. Duma security staff have been yanking old IDs at the door, forcing at least one full-time staffer to spend several days off work while waiting for his new ID.

Police confiscated one ID after stopping its bearer on suspicion of drunk driving on Rublovskoye Shosse, Segodnya newspaper reported Tuesday.

Others were seized at the Rossia Hotel and at the Ryzhskaya metro station, where the holder wasusing it to pass the turnstiles for free, the paper reported.

The gallery of murdered aides includes Mikhail Belenshtein, who had convictions for rape, robbery and theft, and G. Dzen, a reputed member of a Smolensk underworld group who was killed by a bomb. Five slain assistants have worked for members of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. One LDPR deputy, Alexander Filatov, has lost two aides to assassination.