Valentin Kovalev

Valentin Kovalev

Former Minister of Justice of Russia

Biography of Valentin Kovalyov

Valentin Ivanovich Kovalyov, a former Minister of Justice of Russia, was born on January 10, 1944, in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. He comes from a working-class family with his mother, Polina Alexeevna (1907-1989), and father, Alexey Ivanovich (1905-1986), both being laborers.

Kovalyov completed his law degree from the Moscow State University named after M.V. Lomonosov in 1973. He then pursued his post-graduate studies at the Law Faculty of Moscow State University and defended his dissertation on the topic of "The English System of Judicial Evidence" on January 16, 1976. In 1986, he defended his doctoral dissertation on the special problems of legality in modern bourgeois criminal procedure.

Throughout his career, Kovalyov held various positions in the field of law and education. He worked at a metallurgical plant and a rocket and space technology design bureau from the age of 14. He served in the Soviet Army and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, reaching the rank of Colonel of the Internal Service.

From 1976 to 1986, Kovalyov taught law and conducted scientific research at the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR. He then became a professor at the Higher Legal School from 1986 to 1991 and the Legal Institute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation in Moscow from 1991 to 1993. In 1992-1993, he served as the Director-General of the Legal Center of the Foundation for National and International Security. Kovalyov was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union until its ban in August 1991.

On December 12, 1993, Kovalyov was elected as a deputy of the State Duma, representing the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). He served as a member of the CPRF faction and was elected as one of the four deputy chairmen of the State Duma on January 17, 1994. In December 1994, he became the head of the headquarters of the State Duma on the situation related to the armed conflict in the Chechen Republic. He also served as a member of the Observational Commission for the negotiation process with the Chechen Republic. In December 1994, Kovalyov was appointed as the chairman of the joint trilateral commission on human rights in Chechnya.

On January 5, 1995, Kovalyov was appointed as the Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation in the government of Viktor Chernomyrdin. However, on January 10, 1995, he was expelled from the CPRF faction for joining the "anti-people government" without prior consultation with the faction. On August 14, 1996, he was reappointed as the Minister of Justice in the new government of Viktor Chernomyrdin.

In February 1999, Kovalyov was arrested on charges of embezzlement of state funds related to the activities of the "Fund for the Public Protection of Civil Rights" which he had established during his tenure as Minister. The fund had collaborated with the financial-industrial group "Stolitsa" and the "Khodynka" bank owned by Ziyavudin Adzhiev. Kovalyov was accused of embezzling $50,000.

After his arrest, Kovalyov attracted further controversy when it was revealed that he was the first high-ranking official in Russia to be secretly recorded in a bathhouse frequented by prostitutes. He was also accused of illegally amassing wealth, including a luxurious estate in the elite suburb of Suhonovo, worth nearly $600,000.

Kovalyov went on a hunger strike in protest of his arrest and demanded to be allowed to have his lawyer visit him in Butyrka prison and be transferred to Lefortovo pre-trial detention center. He also sent a letter to the President of Russia, stating that he was in good health and ruled out any possibility of voluntarily ending his life.

In April 2000, Kovalyov was released from Lefortovo pre-trial detention center under a non-departure agreement. In July 2000, the Investigative Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation completed the investigation of his criminal case and charged Kovalyov with multiple embezzlement offenses and bribery.

In August 2000, the General Prosecutor's Office of Russia approved the indictment against Kovalyov. On August 28, 2000, his case was transferred to court.

Kovalyov continued to fight against his charges, alleging physical and psychological abuse in prison and the use of psychotropic drugs to force him to give incriminating testimonies. In February 2001, the court ruled in favor of Kovalyov in a defamation lawsuit against the former Prosecutor General of Russia, Yuri Skuratov.

Despite his legal battles, Kovalyov's political career came to an end, and he remained a controversial figure in Russian politics.