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Russia’s economy minister arrested on suspicion of bribery

Russia’s major crackdown on corruption leads to the first ministerial-level arrest since 1993.

Russia’s Minister of Economic Development Alexey Ulyukayev has just been detained under suspicion of receiving a bride worth 2 million USD for the positive appraisal given by his ministry, allowing Rosneft – Russia’s largest state-controlled oil company, to buy a 50 percent stake in another state-controlled oil company Bashneft.

According to the Investigative Committee, Rosneft representatives were coerced and threatened by Ulyukayev into giving the bribe.

RT reports:

Russian Economy Minister Alexey Ulyukayev was detained Tuesday on suspicion of taking a $2 million bribe in return for his ministry’s support for a major oil company deal, Russia’s Investigative Committee said. The minister is in custody and awaiting charges.

“The circumstances of the crime are connected with Alexey Ulyukayev, who occupies a public post in the Russian Federation, receiving $2 million on November 14 for the positive assessment provided by the Economic Development Ministry that allowed Rosneft to complete the deal on purchasing the government’s 50 percent stake in Bashneft,” Svetlana Petrenko, deputy head of the Investigative Committee, said in an official statement.

In October, Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft, purchased the state-owned stake in a major regional oil company, Bashneft, for about $5.3 billion. The deal was approved by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, although back in September, President Vladimir Putin expressed his concerns over the potential takeover of one state-controlled company by another.

This is the first time that a government minister has been arrested in Russia since 1993.

At that time, Boris Yeltsin was engaged in what many called an illegal power grab as he attempted to consolidate his rule over members of the Congress of People’s Deputies and the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation by introducing a new and controversial constitution.

During a protected struggle which resulted in armed violence, Yeltsin’s faction ultimately won and the leaders and officials of the Congress and Supreme Soviet were arrested. They were of course released in 1994 and all criminal proceedings were formally closed in 1995.

The events of today are very different. Rather than arrests over metaphysical, philosophical and ideological disputes over Russia’s future, the detention of Alexey Ulyukayev is a matter of large scale corruption from a man who, if the allegations are true, put extreme personal greed above duty to his country.

No nation can tolerate corruption in the highest seats of power. Not only are politicians not above the law, they must necessarily be subjected to higher levels of scrutiny via-a-vis ordinary civilians. They are entrusted to ensure the prosperity and safety of the public and any dereliction of this duty must be met with the full force of the law.

It must be added that such cases are not unique to Russia or other major powers. At this very moment, President-elect Donald Trump is considering whether or not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her criminal acts.

In large countries, whether it be Russia, the United States, China or India, holding corrupt officials accountable for their crimes is important for sending stern signals to other officials while at the same time boosting confidence in government among ordinary citizens.

This latest development simply confirms Russia’s commitment to the fight against government corruption. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t hold true in many other places.

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