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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Senator Stripped of His Seat Over His Business Activities

In an unusual and contentious vote, the Federation Council on Friday expelled Senator Alexander Sabadash for being engaged in business activities while in office.

Council Speaker Sergei Mironov tried to remove Sabadash and three other senators earlier this month, but Sabadash and the legislature in his home region, the Nenets autonomous district, had balked. Mironov on Wednesday then called for the vote, accusing Sabadash of carrying out business in Russia and abroad, even though senators are supposed to steer clear of such activities.

Many senators have links to big business, and commentators have called the Sabadash case a publicity stunt meant to show the public that the Kremlin is getting tough on corruption, among other things.

Pressure had been growing for Sabadash to step down.

Prosecutors searched the Sabadash-owned Liviz distillery in St. Peterburg on Wednesday and Thursday and seized financial documents, Vedomosti reported. On Friday, prosecutors detained Liviz's director and chief accountant on suspicion of tax evasion.

A deputy head of the Federation Council's procedural committee, Oleg Panteleyev, said Sabadash held a U.S. green card and earned about $438,000 in the United States in 2004.

Authorities also arrested Nenets governor and Sabadash ally Alexei Barinov and charged him with fraud and abuse of office on Tuesday.

Only after the arrest did Sabadash, who became a senator in 2003, submit his resignation. No charges have been filed against him.

The Federation Council also voted Friday to expel Boris Gutin, who represents the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district, and Igor Ivanov, of the Primorye region, in the Far East. A vote on whether to expel the fourth senator, Arkady Sarkisyan of Khakasia, is scheduled for this week.