Russian lawmaker arrested on Senate floor for murders

Arashukov attends a hearing on his arrest at a district court in Moscow, Jan 30, 2019.
Arashukov attends a hearing on his arrest at a district court in Moscow, Jan 30, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MOSCOW (AFP) - A Russian lawmaker was arrested on Wednesday (Jan 30) in the middle of a Parliament session in connection with two murders committed eight years ago, an official and news reports said.

Rauf Arashukov, a 32-year-old senator representing the Karachayevo-Cherkessia region of Russia's Northern Caucasus, is suspected of involvement in the 2010 murders of two people and of pressuring a witness to one of the killings, according to investigators.

He allegedly acted as part of an organised group that included his father, a statement by the Russian Investigative Committee said.

Arashukov was on the Senate floor when police officers entered and read out a warrant, according to Senate Speaker Valentina Matviyenko.

"He tried to get up and leave the session. I told him to sit down," she told state television.

She said he will retain his senator post despite the probe until a court finds him guilty.

Parliamentary journalists did not witness the arrest as the cameras were turned off without explanation, said a correspondent for Rossiya 24 state TV.

A court in Moscow later denied bail to Arashukov, deciding to keep him behind bars for two months while the probe continues.

Investigators named the murder victims as Aslan Zhukov, an activist with an organisation representing the Circassian ethnic minority, and Fral Shebzukhov, an adviser to the governor of Arashukov's Karachayevo-Cherkessia region.

Both were shot dead in 2010, on separate occasions.