A top-level politician in St. Petersburg has resigned from his post as head of a municipal precinct and been expelled from the ruling United Russia party after a raid on his apartment uncovered an illegal casino operation.
Anti-corruption officers in Russia’s second city raided the property of Oleg Kalyadin, with video footage shared widely on social media showing the door being broken down.
Inside were roulette and poker tables as well as slot machines. Twelve suspects were detained for questioning, according to 78.ru, which reported there had been a separate raid in the city last November on an illegal casino operating out of a house.
In 2009, casinos were outlawed in most parts of Russia, except for designated zones in the Altai, Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, and Primorsky regions.
The Russian government has given the green light for a new casino zone in the annexed Crimean peninsula, with plans for a so-called Golden Coast gaming zone to start operation in 2022.
Although Kalyadin claimed he was renting out the property and did not know what was going on inside it, he promptly resigned from his position as the head of the Vedensky precinct in St. Petersburg’s Petrograd side district, the state-run RIA Novosti agency reported.
A local government source told RIA: “Oleg Kalyadin stepped down as head of the Vedensky municipal district of his own free will.” He had been a municipal deputy since 2004.
Meanwhile, the news site Fotanka.ru reported that Kalyadin had also been expelled from the regional branch of the United Russia party.
Vyacheslav Makarov, speaker of the city’s legislative assembly, said officials had to maintain high standards of probity and that an illegal casino was far beyond what is acceptable.
Anti-Putin Politician Facing Raid Flies Hard Drives Away With Drone
“To rent out your apartment, where a criminal business starts to take off, is absolutely incompatible with being a member of our party,” Makarov said. Newsweek has contacted the United Russia party for comment.
The release of the footage and state-run agencies reporting Kalyadin’s plight raises the possibility that raid and subsequent expulsion were politically motivated.
The Moscow Times noted that Kaladyin’s district is a stronghold of Makarov, who is under increasing pressure from the city’s new governor, Alexander Beglov. Beglov took up his post following the city’s municipal elections in 2019 in which he won more than 60 percent of the votes.
Those elections were marred by allegations of ballot stuffing and observers being beaten, according to the Meduza website.