Vladimir Ashurkov - RBC: "I am more useful at liberty, even in London"

Ally of the opposition leader Alexey Navalny, Vladimir Ashurkov has been granted political asylum in Britain.
Origin source
One of the key members of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny team, former managing director of monitoring and asset management company of the consortium "Alpha-Group", Vladimir Ashurkov since late last year in London, and has recently received political asylum in Britain. In an interview with RBC (interview given by Skype from home in London), he spoke about the pressure of special services, cooperation with Mikhail Khodorkovsky and how donated personal funds to work Navalny team.

Criminal cases and asylum

- How did you get political asylum in the UK?

- I applied for political asylum in July, and received notice late last week that my application was approved. The main reason that I have pointed out in a statement - it is a criminal case against me and my colleagues of Nicholas and Constantine Lyaskina Jankauskas. I had to prove to the British authorities that the prosecution is politically motivated and that, if I come back, I would be in danger of wrongful arrest. Sam refugee status restricts hRights, and before applying for asylum, I have long considered options that would avoid restrictions. The fact that a refugee must return the passport of their country and can not go home. But at the same time, refugee status makes it possible to obtain a residence permit in the country and protects against extradition, if Russia will ask for it through Interpol.

When the British government granted asylum, family members are dependent status, that is, the right to live in the UK. We Sasha (Alexandrina Markvo - law wife Ashurkova - RBC approx.) Are not officially married, but British law we are considered husband and wife. After the criminal case was opened at Sasha, she also filed an application for asylum is being considered.

- Do you keep in touch with others involved in the case?

- The more we communicate with Nicholas [Lyaskinym], because he was under house arrest, but is not limited to communication, and besides he is a member of the central council of our party. With Bones [Jankauskas] we write to, but we communicate less, because it is limited to the house arrest. <br />
- Why have you turned to a circuit unreliable fundraising?

- Our legal analysis then and now shows that raising funds through "Yandeks.Koshelek" does not violate the laws. Transfer of funds to the wallet - it is a gift. As we declared, the funds raised went to the election campaign and the subsequent costs to challenge the election results in the courts. Use Mode election account is not disturbed. The fact that this case is sucked from the finger, said, including the fact that the investigation is still unable to produce the victims in this case, although there have been interviewed dozens or hundreds of people, who transferred 300 or 500 rubles. In addition, with Bones [Jankauskas], even though he has been under arrest since June 2014, no investigation is not conducted, it just from time to time extend the house arrest. The point is small - three "Yandeks.Koshelka" collected about 10 million rubles, and if there was something, the Investigation Committee for a long time have announced the success of the investigation.. I believe that the main objective of this case was as follows: the three of us would like to participate inforests in the Moscow City Duma, so the government wanted to create pressure on Navalny's key team members. I definitely feel responsible for what Jankauskas is in custody, and Lyaskin under subscription. I have no guilt because we have not violated the law. Perhaps if you could travel back in time, we would not have used this method of fundraising, the more that this method does not have any critical contribution to our election fund. But before to tell, what kind of an excuse for repressive machine uses harassment, it is impossible.

- Who invented this action with the public donation of a million you Lyaskinym and Jankauskas?

- It was a collective decision of the election headquarters. Time to raise money we did not have so much, we wanted to use to the maximum all the legal mechanisms.

- How was organized the work of "Office 17"?

- Sasha has organized various cultural events for more than 15 years, a number of projects it has done for the Moscow and federal agencies. For us was a big surprise that this kind of activity hasthe reason for the persecution. For example, the investigation blames the fact that four of the prize for the contest buktreylerov held as part of the book festival, have been replaced with ten prizes of lesser value, because the number of winners has changed. However, tenders are won over many months before the actual event, all the nuances are not provided. After all, if there were any violations, the customer had all the opportunities to make a complaint, impose penalties, but did not initiate a criminal case.

- Whether the funds Alexandrina sacrifice activities Navalny?

- No.

- Navalny ran for mayor of Moscow. At the same time, the company Markvo contracted with the state structures. You do not think that there was a conflict of interest?

- No, it's ridiculous, she was for many years involved in the organization of major cultural events, which is visited by tens of thousands of people What I am involved in politics, it made no difference to the fact that Moscow needed activities to promote reading. From a legal point of view, there can also be no complaints.

Care of the "Alfa Group" and cooperation with businessmen

- You publicly declared that Navalny joined in early 2012. You will not regret that you left the business and engaged in politics?

- This decision was not voluntary. I would love to continue to work in "Alfa", I had a very interesting job, I worked with the best, most professional and businessmen toothy, I loved it. I intend to continue to work there, and in his spare time to help Alex to the public work, which he then worked. What we did was innocently enough: we wrote letters to the auditors of state companies, drawing their attention to possible abuses, develop measures to improve information transparency of state-owned companies, improve the quality of corporate governance. It's all completely legal, and leaders of the "Alfa Group" and my supervisors knew about it.

- What do you mean when you say that your departure was not voluntary?

- Then what we zanimaliswith Navalny, it was difficult even to name the policy. But something has changed about my leadership to cooperate with Navalny in late 2011. In the informal conversations, I told them that I know Navalny and help him. Talking with them in January 2012, I was such, reproduce roughly: "There Bulk around it is now a lot of excitement (it was after the protests, 2011), a variety of special services you consider him a close ally. We can not tolerate this in our group, because we have this power must be dealt with on a daily basis. " I have no complaints to him, the employer has the right to leave the employee, if he thinks so.

- What's the secret services, which, in your words, your leadership reported in the "Alpha" about your collaboration with Navalny?

- I do not have accurate information about this, but I heard that it is so. But any major Russian companies have formal and informal links with the secret services. I guess the management was transferred to the view that it is not necessary to keep a person who helps Navalny.

- After you left to Navalny you continue to do business?

- I did the modest investment of savings, which I managed to accumulate over the years in the business. It gave me a means of livelihood. Now I also do investment. This is a public stock markets, as well as smaller transactions in the field of Internet startups.

- When you went into politics, was a calculation that up to you will be pulled to the opposition business?

- This was one of our goals - to create a new agenda, so we were looking for allies in all sectors of society, especially among economically active people. One of the main directions was to raise funds for this purpose we have developed crowdfunding and direct work with wealthy people who could not give a fund 500-1000 rub., As our average donor, and a large amount.

- After a while, you can say that the payment was justified?

- Of course, I appreciate the work of our fundraising as successful. We are now in the fund has about 20 people on the campaign we were able to collect boits 100 million rbl., including many donations were given rich people who gave from one million (limit per donor under the law), although initially, at the beginning of the campaign, were not sure that gather and 20 million.

- Are there any business that regularly give donations FBC?

- We do not disclose the names of our donors without their consent. What I can say, without consultation, it is that Boris Zimin helps fund on a monthly basis.

- Navalny himself to the business occurs?

- Meetings were during the election campaign in 2013, and most of 2014 Alexey held under house arrest, so it was impossible.

- Your donors are gone out of business on you after the initiation of criminal proceedings against you and Navalny?

- The composition of those who support us, changing from time to time, it is important that we can finance our organization and to raise funds for major projects such as the election campaign.

- Do your donors have had problems due to the fact that they are funded by your figurespine?

- No, I did not know that.

- What is the current budget FBK and Progress Party?

- Fund budget of about 3 million rubles. per month. The party requires little or no cost, except on the documents on regional newsletter, duties in the courts. It is much less waste than required by the fund.

- How much do you personally donated FBK, progress and prospect of the Party.?

- Total of about $ 100 thousand.

Party Navalny and the future of the opposition

- The Moscow City Court on Monday confirmed that the Progress Party can not participate in elections. What then will the party do?

- After yesterday's court decision our ability to challenge the refusal to register in the legal field is small. We are considering options for appeal to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. We have fulfilled all the formal requirements of the Ministry of Justice, the refusal to register looks like a manipulation of the political system, the more that the February survey, our Party enjoys more popular support than the parliamentary "Fair Russia", or an existing member"Apple" uyuschaya more than 20 years.

- What is your function in the party now?

- I - a member of the central council of the party. My task in the fund, and the party is to develop strategies (this policy documents, etc.) to attract funding, contacts with opinion leaders. I am in constant contact with Alex and the other members of our team.

- In London, you communicate with other emigrants?

- One of the reasons why we decided to live in London, this is a large number of Russian here, as always someone coming from Russia. I am in close contact with Sergei Guriev, with whom we are discussing the renewal of the program of our party. From time to time I talk with Evgeny Chichvarkin, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and the people who are part of his team. They are our allies.

- You do not plan to somehow formally unite?

- We interact and discuss some projects, coordinating, from the ideological point of view, we do not have contradictions, but there is no question of a formal association.

- In your opinion, why the opposition in Russia has lostand the right compared with the time the initiative when you're only in it come from?

- "Law Initiative" - ​​the concept is not entirely accurate. The current political regime has incomparably greater resources than us. Martin Luther said, "Even if the world ends tomorrow, today I still'll drop your apple tree." I about such considerations motivated.

- What to do Now the opposition?

- Let's talk about it in the context of elections in 2016. I am convinced that sooner or later the political system in Russia becomes more liberal, and we will have the opportunity to participate in the elections. In this election cycle we have two problems: we have to put political pressure on the authorities to have been steps towards liberalization of the political system, and second, you need to gain experience and prepare for the time when there will be liberalization. The nearest one and a half years, we intend to use the fact to strengthen its political influence, namely, to improve the interaction with supporters, learn to work in coalition with the different political forces, againivat regional structure to hone the program, to raise awareness of the party and the FCO.

- Under what conditions will you return to Russia?

- I'm more useful on the loose, even in London than in Russian custody. Sooner or later I will come back, but it is silly to sit on their suitcases and wait "mode when the collapse." We are trying to arrange his life here, in the meantime, I continue to work in a team Navalny.

- Do you keep in touch with Mikhail Fridman?

- No. We parted amicably enough, but our relationship was the relationship manager and the employee, friends, we have never been. I do not seek contact with him, knowing that with me intercourse may harm its business. I learned a lot from him because he was my supervisor, and I consider it one of the great Russian and world business.