In Russia, the economy minister was detained on charges of soliciting a bribe. The Investigative Committee of Russia announced on Tuesday that they had detained the minister overnight. He is accused of asking for a $2 million bribe. The money leads to an important deal involving oil companies. The Russian economy minister, Alexei Ulyukayev is a high-level official. In fact, this is the highest-level arrest in Russia since 1991. The authorities came to pick him up during the night, making a show of force. These tactics have not been used lately in Russia. But it could signal a turn of events.
Russian Economy Minister Accused of Taking a Bribe
Svetlana Petrenko is the spokesperson for the Russian Investigative Committee. She says that Alexei Ulyukayev had accepted the bribe in exchange for a favorable endorsement. His ministry had to agree to the sale of a part of an oil company to oil company Rosneft. The government owns both companies in Russia, making things more complicated for the minister. Rosneft is Russia’s leading extraction and refinement company and the largest publicly traded oil company.
Svetlana Petrenko says that there is more than just a simple bribe to the story. The economy minister is alleged to have used threats to pressure Rosneft representatives to offer the money.
“This is about the extortion of a bribe from Rosneft representatives accompanied by threats. Ulyukayev was caught red-handed as he received the bribe,”
said Svetlana Petrenko.
Details of a Complicated Case Involving the Russian Economy Minister
Details of the case are still emerging. But the case looks like it is part of a larger fight within the Kremlin regarding the direction of the economy. Since Russia’s economy has been failing recently, there is a power struggle to retain control over key assets. The accusations facing the economy minister reveal the extent to which the fight is taking place in Moscow. A possible scenario for the events is an indirect attack on Igor I. Sechin. He is the chairman of Rosneft and a friend of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.
Alexei Ulyukayev is also the minister for economic development. Since 2014, he has been responsible for selling parts of companies owned by the Russian government. Because Russia was going through a prolonged recession, the government decided to sell large chunks of key government assets. The assets are very valuable and that put Ulyukayev in a strong position in the Kremlin.
The Investigative Committee, that reports to Vladimir V. Putin, opened a criminal case against Alexei Ulyukayev under the suspicion of asking for a bribe in exchange for endorsing the oil deal. Prosecutors say that they do not consider the deal itself to be suspicious.
The asset that was for sale was half of the company Bashneft. Bashneft is an oil company that the government has seized from an oligarch. Rosneft, the oil giant, paid over $5 billion dollars for half of Bashneft. News of the sale became public in October. At the time, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin expressed his surprise that the government had recommended the deal.
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