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Valery Rashkin: Russian Communist Party MP charged with illegally hunting elk

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By AP  with Euronews
Valery Rashkin speaks at a rally protesting against the latest Russian elections results in September.
Valery Rashkin speaks at a rally protesting against the latest Russian elections results in September.   -   Copyright  ZZEBU via EBU

A Russian opposition Communist Party MP has been charged with illegally hunting an elk last month.

Valery Rashkin - a well-known Kremlin critic - faces a fine of up to 1 million rubles (€12,000) and five years in prison if convicted.

The 66-year-old MP had his parliamentary immunity lifted last month amid the pending charges.

Rashkin was arrested in October after police said they found an elk carcass in the trunk of his vehicle in Russia's Saratov region.

Authorities said the MP did not own a hunting license and have also accused Rashkin of driving while intoxicated.

Rashkin, who at first denied shooting the elk, admitted to killing an animal but has denied breaking the law. He has also stated that the case against him is politically motivated.

The Communist Party MP also faces administrative charges after refusing to take a medical examination when he was arrested.

Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov said Rashkin was emitting was a "pungent smell of alcohol" and denied any political motivations for the charges.

Russia’s top investigative body has reportedly asked a court to impose a curfew on Rashkin and prevent him from communicating with others implicated in the case.

But some Russian media say that Rashkin is facing charges due to his frequent criticism of the Kremlin and support for jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

In September, Rashkin was among several Communist Party members who protested alleged online voting fraud in Moscow during Russia’s parliamentary and local elections.