The State Duma deputy of the Communist Party Nina Ostanina told “Kommersant” that she filed a suit to defend her honor and dignity against the former associates, as well as against the Kemerovo branch of VGTRK which had accused her of blackmail. Alexander Bychev - Head of the election campaign of candidates Dmitry Kochadze and Nicholas Arestov - said that the Communist Party withdrew their candidates because they refused to give the money which the first the secretary Nina Ostanina "solicited" of them. The deputy called it a slander.
On March, 14 there will be a by-election of the two regional council members in the Kemerovo region. The Regional Committee of the Communist Party decided to withdraw its candidates Dmitry Kochadze and Nicholas Arestov. As stated in the official statement of the Regional Committee Bureau, the decision was made due to the existence of unrevoked lawsuits against the First Secretary of the Regional Committee, and deputy of the Duma Nina Ostanina which had been filed by the regional administration, electoral commission, and the office of United Russia. The subject of lawsuits became the following words of the member: "Kuzbass is a region of fear; there is no place for free election." Three plaintiffs demanded the defendant to pay 1.5 million rubles. In addition, the Communist Party said "the government-controlled media carried out a political order by re-launching a smear campaign against the candidates of the Communist Party and its activists. According to the Second Regional Secretary Alexander Studenikin, participation of the Communist Party candidates in the elections would only discredit the very idea of elections in the eyes of voters.
A different version of withdrawal of the Communist Party candidates was mentioned in the program "Vesti-Kuzbass" of local branch of VGTRK. They showed an interview with Alexander Bychev who was presented as the head of election headquarters of gentlemen Kochadze and Arestov. Mr. Bychev claimed that Nina Ostanina "made an unacceptable act", she "blackmailed the candidates", "extorted money from them - a few million rubles”, and when she got a refuse, "organized the withdrawal of candidates through the bureau". According to Alexander Bychev, the proof is the fact that candidates of the Communist Party have not been revoked from the local by-election which is also going to be held on March 14. Dmitry Kochadze told “Kommersant” that the statement of Alexander Bychev reflected his own position.
Mr. Studenikin denied allegations of extortion by stressing that the nomination and withdrawal of candidates were the prerogative of the party offices. As for Nina Ostanina, she said to “Kommersant” that she filed lawsuits against Alexander Bychev and VGTRK to defend her honor and dignity. "Do I look like a blackmailer? I have plenty of money to buy a skirt and tights! This is not the first time I've been accused of extortion and something like this. According to the Kemerovo authorities, I am the main oligarch in Kuzbass!" Nina Ostanina also stressed that Mr Bychev never was a leader of the Communist Party headquarters, and hence she assumed that he acted on orders of the regional administration. Nina Ostanina reported that the Communist Party candidates were pre-warned about "this political step and withdrawing from the election." Vadim Solovyov, Head of legal service of the Communist deputy told “Kommersant” that "Nina is a decent person and a great professional." "I'm always skeptical in regard of any accusations of selfish intents they bring against her: she lives on a salary of Duma deputy," he said. Mr. Solovyev connected the current charges of blackmailing with long-standing conflicts of the deputy with the deputy governor Aman Tuleev. "Nina Ostanina has been again substituted for the Central Committee of the Communist Party withdraw her from the post of the first secretary of the Regional Committee; the regional administration wants someone more loyal at her place of," suggested the deputy.
Source: newspaper "Kommersant" № 39 / B (4339) on 09/03/2010