Russian Economy Minister Ulyukayev pleads not guilty to taking bribe
MOSCOW, November 15 (RAPSI, Oleg Sivozhelezov) - Russian Economy Minister Alexey Ulyukayev on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to receiving an especially large bribe, RAPSI reports from Moscow’s Basmanny District Court.
Ulyukayev also declined to admit his guilt during interrogation conducted in the Investigative Committee earlier on Tuesday and actually refused to testify, according to investigators.
However, he agreed to cooperate with the investigators.
Ulyukayev was officially charged with extorting an especially large amount bribe.
According to acting spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee Svetlana Petrenko, the minister was arrested overnight into Tuesday when receiving a $2 million bribe. He allegedly demanded Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft’s representative to pay him a bribe for lawfully providing a positive review and evaluation of a deal that allowed Rosneft to acquire government’s share in mid-sized producer Bashneft. She added that Ulyukayev threatened to create obtrusions for Rosneft with use of his position.
Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told RIA Novosti that Vladimir Putin was informed when the investigation was launched.
However, he failed to answer the question whether the situation with Ulyukayev can affect Bashneft deal.
Bashneft was controlled by the government of Russia’s Bashkortostan region until 2003, when a major stake was sold to companies affiliated with Ural Rakhimov, son of the former head of Bashkortostan Murtaza Rakhimov. The company was privatized in 2009 when Russian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate AFK Sistema gained control of it.
Investigators opened a criminal case in April linked to deals with Bashneft shares in 2002 to 2009.
Rakhimov and billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov were implicated in the sale of Bashneft stock in 2009. Rakhimov was charged in absentia with embezzlement and money laundering, put on the international wanted list.
The Moscow Commercial Court granted in October 2014 a claim which had been filed by the Investigative Committee and ordered AFK Sistema, its subsidiary Sistema-Invest to forfeit Bashneft stock.