A St. Petersburg, Russia politician, Oleg Kalyadin, quit his local government post and was tossed out of the United Russia party after police found an illegal gambling operation in an apartment he owned, news reports said.
Police discovered roulette tables, poker equipment, and slots at the residence. The Friday night raid also led to 12 suspects detained by authorities. The illicit casino was located “underground” RIA Novosti reported, citing a local source.
Kalyadin had been head of the Vedensky precinct in St. Petersburg’s Petrograd side district, RIA news agency said. Kalyadin had been a municipal deputy for 15 years. A local source, Fotanka.ru, said Kalyadin also was ejected Monday from the United Russia party’s regional branch.
In response to the allegations, Kalyadin claimed he rents the apartment to a tenant, Newsweek said. He said he was unaware of the gaming equipment and improper activities, the report added.
For a decade, Russia prohibited casinos in most locations. There are exceptions for the Altai, Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, and Primorsky regions, Newsweek said.
But the gambling allegations led to a condemnation by party officials. “To rent out your apartment, where a criminal business starts to take off, is absolutely incompatible with being a member of our party,” Vyacheslav Makarov, St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly speaker, was quoted by Newsweek.
Questions on Political Motivation
Because video of the inquiry was released to news media and official news agencies reported on the raid, it is possible the search was motivated by politics, Newsweek said.
Kaladyin’s district is considered a stronghold of Makarov, the Moscow Times reported. Also, last September, alleged illegal activities took place during municipal elections, such as stuffing of ballots and assaults on observers, the Times reported.
Makarov has been pressured by the city’s new governor, Alexander Beglov.
Gambling May Expand in Crimea, Primorye
Gambling is set to expand in some nearby areas. Last October, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev authorized the creation of a new gambling area in occupied Crimea, a region annexed by Russian during a military conflict with neighboring Ukraine in 2014.
Medvedev approved the creation of a casino gaming zone in the Zolotoy Bereg coastal area in Yalta, along the Black Sea. Zolotoy Bereg translates to “Golden Coast,” a phrase used in reference to several other tourist destinations throughout the world. The space set aside for gaming in Crimea measures 147,000 square meters, or just over 91 square miles.
Russia isn’t backtracking on its goal to create its own version of Las Vegas in the Far East Primorye Gambling Zone, located roughly 30 miles north of Vladivostok.
The Primorye Gambling Zone won’t remain a one-casino town, claim area officials. Primorsky Krai Acting Vice Governor Konstantin Shestakov, who oversees economic business development and tourism for the federal subject area, says more resorts are on the way.
As of November, Casino.org reported officials predict there could be 11 casinos in the Primorye Gambling Zone in operation by 2023.
Also, last February, a court in Kyiv, Ukraine accidentally leaked the name of the suspected owner of Azino777, what is believed to be the biggest single illegal online gaming operator serving the Russian market. Azino777 has become the biggest video advertiser on the Russian internet in recent years, outstripping the likes of Pepsi and Google.
The Bell discovered the court had inadvertently failed to redact the name of Albert Valiakhmetov, a 33-year-old Russian IT expert, from requested documents. Azino777 is currently under investigation by authorities in Ukraine, where, like Russia, online casinos are illegal.