Artur Zavalunov, the chief of the legal department at the Office of Russia’s Prosecutor General, who spoke at a roundtable in the Federation Council upper house of Parliament, produced a highly mixed reaction among the Russian senators.
During the roundtable discussion in the Federation Council the upper house of Parliament, concern was raised over the principles of operations of the Prosecutor General's Office, and a speech by one of its high-rank officials became a target of criticism. Senator Vyacheslav Timchenko, who represents the Kirov region, said that the situation reminded him of the Great Purge in 1937 (a campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union). Reports also indicated that Artur Zavalunov, the chief of the legal department at the Prosecutor General’s Office who took the floor at the roundtable produced a rather mixed reaction among the audience. He confirmed that the Prosecutor General’s Office takes into account the closest family members’ places of employment to avoid a potential conflict of interests. However, denial of employment on these grounds is not viewed as a crackdown on anyone’s constitutional rights. “This is a specific feature of civil service. You take responsibility for serving the country, and we have every right to ask such questions,” Zavalunov said. He has also voiced the opinion that the post of а city mayor should be occupied by a person who is a native of this particular region, since natives are more informed about the problems of the region. Senator Vyacheslav Timchenko disagreed with Arthur Zavalunov’s. He criticized the official’s words and said that the current situation reminds him of 1937. "You know, I'm an old man, and when I listened to the representative of the General Prosecutor's Office, it seemed to me that the year 1937 had come back. The basic idea is that it’s you who are to be blamed -- always. And you always have to prove that you are not guilty. You always have to prove the opposite. Wake up! We live in a civilized society. Let's remember those times when collective farms (kolkhozes) did not give passports to the locals living there in order to keep them from moving to other places. And take the talk about mayors, who should be exceptionally the native residents of the cities. So let's make reservation areas, where nobody will be able to move anywhere or work there in executive positions. I am seriously concerned that the staff of the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation consists of people with such a mindset,” said Senator Timchenko. He added that espousing this kind of principles might result in "crossing a line". "I am sure that we will never become a civilized society as long as such ideas make up its backbone," the senator said.