By Jonny Tickle
A Russian communist politician has been detained by law enforcement in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok on suspicion of sex crimes against a person under the age of 14, in a case he has described as politically motivated.
On Wednesday, the regional investigative committee released details of the detainment, without explicitly naming the suspect. However, newspapers have since reported that it is Artem Samsonov, a deputy of the Primorye regional legislature and leader of the Communist Party of Vladivostok. His lawyer has also confirmed his identity.
Investigators suspect the local politician of committing “other actions of a sexual nature against a person under 14 years of age,” which carries a prison term of between 12 and 20 years. The authorities believe Samsonov showed an 11-year-old child an “object of intimate nature” while at a recreation center. Communist Party member Elena Ponomareva later described this as a dildo. He also allegedly told the child the purpose of the sex toy.
According to reports, when he was taken out of his apartment by the police, he told people watching that the case was “far-fetched” and “three years old.” He also claimed the investigation was politically motivated and linked it to the upcoming elections to the Vladivostok City Duma, due to take place next year.
Speaking to news agency Interfax, his lawyer Natalia Kasilova explained that Samsonov is now on a “hunger strike against the charges brought against him.”
Samsonov is the second Communist politician to have problems with the law in November. Earlier this month, the prosecutor general asked the State Duma to strip MP Valery Rashkin of his parliamentary immunity after he confessed to illegally hunting a moose.
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