Hearings to start in bribery trial of Russian ex-minister
Preliminary hearings in the bribery trial of former Russian economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev are set to start August 8, a court said Wednesday, the highest-profile criminal case against an official in decades.
Ulyukayev was arrested in November 2016 while still a minister, allegedly caught red-handed taking a $2-million kickback to greenlight state oil giant Rosneft’s acquisition of a stake in firm Bashneft.
A spokesman for the Zamoskvoretsky district court in Moscow told AFP the “preliminary hearings” will start next Tuesday, and the judge will then set a date for further court sessions.
The uncharismatic official’s dramatic fall from grace was the first time in decades that an acting minister was detained and charged with a criminal offence.
The arrest of Ulyukayev, 61, sent shockwaves through Russia’s liberal elite.
Ulyukayev had originally opposed the sale of the stake in Bashneft to Rosneft but later endorsed it after President Vladimir Putin said it could help fill state coffers.
Rosneft is headed by Igor Sechin, a powerful ally of Putin, who has become one of the most influential figures in Russia as he has built up the firm into the world’s largest publicly traded oil company.
Ulyukayev — who denies the charges — has been under house arrest since his detention.
Putin sacked him as economy minister — a job he had held since 2013 — in the wake of his detention.