A rising star in the Russian Communist Party, believed to be the next opposition leader against Putin, has been caught poaching a moose in an accident. It is said that it has all the hallmarks of a Kremlin production, the Telegraph reports.
Valery Rashkin, 66, an MP who has attracted new young and progressive supporters to the party, has been caught with the body of a moose
Hunting authorities told Russian media that the rangers headed to the forest outside the city of Saratov on Thursday night to respond to reports of the shooting, only to find Rashkin and two other men with a moose carcass in their car.
An ax and two knives with traces of blood were also found in the car, authorities said.
The Communist Party says Rashkin, considered a potential successor to the party leader, has been deceived and the incident has sparked speculation that the Kremlin is trying to contain the threat of increasingly uncompromising communists.
In recent months, the party’s growing anti-Putin faction has become a thorn in the Kremlin’s side. Despite widespread election fraud, the Communists showed their best performance in this year’s regional elections.
After Alexei Navalny was imprisoned and his closest allies fled abroad, the Communists, led by Rashkin, a staunch supporter of Navalny, spearheaded protests against the rigging of the September election. They openly accused Vladimir Putin of persecuting his political rivals.
In what is alleged to be evidence of poaching, a video published by the Baza news media shows Rashkin wearing something that could be hunting clothes, saying he will announce the finding of a dead moose. He looks disoriented and speaks briefly.
But Rashkin later said he was visiting friends in the countryside when he went for a walk in the woods and saw a car pull away.
“I approached this place and saw a moose – an almost completely dismembered moose carcass,” he told RTVi, adding that he then returned to his friends and offered to go and take the corpse to the police.
He said that as they approached the area, they were surrounded by “a horde of FSB, police and foresters”.
The state-run TASS news agency, which initially reported the incident without giving Rashkin’s name, claimed the man was drunk.
Rashkin denied the allegations, saying he refused to take a breath test, fearing the results could be falsified.
The Communist Party said on Friday that the incident, first reported by pro-Kremlin social networks, had the hallmarks of a slanderous campaign against the popular lawmaker.
Coincidentally, Rashkin was detained in the Saratov region, the Russian epicenter of torture in prison, according to the Telegraph.
The communists have called for a parliamentary investigation into the leak of a video involving employees of the Saratov prison, a proposal that was rejected by the pro-Kremlin party last week.