Russian Federation economy minister sacked over bribery charges

Russian Federation economy minister sacked over bribery charges

Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev was detained late Monday after he allegedly received a $2 million bribe in a sting set by the FSB, the KGB's main successor agency, the Investigative Committee said in a statement Tuesday. The failed coup led to the arrest of several high-ranking officials, including Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov.

During the court hearing, Mr. Ulyukaev denied the charges but said he was ready to cooperate with the investigation. It was in his own interests to cooperate with the investigation as he valued his reputation, he said. He can also be hit with a fine of 100 times the amount of the bribe and be banned from taking certain positions.

"The allegations are very serious and demand very powerful evidence", Peskov told journalists. "In any case, it can only be determined by the court".

"The Minister [of Economic Development Alexey Ulyukaev] has been monitored by FSB agents for more than a year".

Shokhin, who now heads Russia's biggest business lobbying group, also pointed out how odd it was that Ulyukayev would've asked for a bribe when the company sold at market price.

The committee, which reports directly to President Vladimir Putin, said the investigation would put forward charges soon.

- Official statistics show how big agricultural companies have acquired more and more land in the past ten years as the number of small and medium-sized farms in Russian Federation shrank to 36,000 from 59,200 over the same period, the daily says.

Ulyukayev had been in his job since June 2013. He has overseen a two-year slump of the Russian economy that is linked to low worldwide oil prices. Both Medvedev and Ulyukaev had come out against the deal, questioning whether Rosneft, already majority state-owned, should be permitted to take part in what was supposed to be a privatization.

"It's impossible to call the sale of one state company to another state company privatisation", Vedomosti said.

"You have to be mad to threaten Rosneft", Mr Shokhin said.

A spokesman for Rosneft would not comment except to say it had acquired the Bashneft stake "in accordance with Russian law on the basis of the best commercial offer made to the operating bank". The Tass news agency quoted an Investigative Committee spokesperson as saying, "The minister was caught in the act". "No one including the Investigative Committee has expressed any questions about the legality of the deal". Obvious signs of him receiving a bribe were found.

"Perhaps the Kremlin has decided that the country is in a crisis and needs new decisions, so they chose to arrest a strong [government] manager like Ulyukaev", he said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Ulyukayev was still being interrogated.

The ruble was gaining about one percent trading at 65.84 against the United States dollar, and 70.57 against the euro.

-Amie Ferris-Rotman contributed to this article.