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City Hall Refutes Navalny's Foreign Assets Allegations Against Deputy Mayor

Maxim Liksutov (right) with Russian Railways boss Vladimir Yakunin at the opening of Belorussky train station's Aeroexpress service in 2009 S. Porter / Vedomosti

City Hall on Thursday denied allegations made by opposition leader and blogger Alexei Navalny that one of Moscow's deputy mayors has violated the law that bans state officials and their spouses from having assets abroad.

Navalny earlier Thursday published a report on his LiveJournal account saying that the wife of Deputy Mayor Maxim Liksutov, who leads the city's transportation initiatives, owns shares in an Estonian company that indirectly owns a stake in Aeroexpress, the company that runs trains between Moscow and the city's airports.

Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Fund published a table of shareholders from Transgroup Invest AS that appears to show Liksutov transferring his stock in the company to his wife, Tatyana, on June 20, 2013.

The Anti-Corruption Fund called for Maxim Liksutov's resignation and asked Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to investigate the assets.

The State Duma passed the law banning foreign assets in May, giving state officials until mid-August to either get rid of them or quit their jobs. Liksutov apparently got rid of his assets with a month to spare, partly owing to the breakup of his marriage.

Alexei Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of Ekho Moskvy, wrote on his Twitter account that the Liksutovs got a divorce on June 26, 2013, six days after the shares in Transgroup Invest AS were transferred, and within the deadline for selling off foreign assets.

City Hall absolved Liksutov from blame, saying that he does not own any illegal foreign assets. "Any competent organ can check the compliance of Maxim Liksutov's assets with the law," the mayor's press office said Thursday.

Navalny cast doubt on the legitimacy of the divorce, however, saying that it was only filed 10 days after the foreign assets law passed its first reading in the Duma in late February last year.

Navalny's report also said that the Liksutov, a former Estonian citizen, has a conflict of interest because of his indirect ownership of Aeroexpress and influence over the city's transportation budget.

Liksutov, who previously served as general director for Aeroexpress, said in 2012 that he had completely sold his stake in the train company and waived his Estonian citizenship, reported.

Asset declarations from 2012 show that Liksutov, 37, was the richest member of the Moscow government and Forbes Russia estimates his wealth at $650 million. His income declaration includes land holdings in Russia, Estonia and Italy, and numerous luxury cars.

Liksutov's most prominent initiative as deputy mayor for transportation has been the introduction of paid parking in the city center, a measure that has gained money for the Moscow budget despite the derision of some Muscovites.

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