Russian official held for 1.3 million dollar bribe demand

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A senior Russian regional official has been arrested on suspicion of demanding a massive 1.3 million-dollar bribe from a group of businessmen, Russian television reported on Saturday.

Viktor Volkov, the official in charge of property and land in the central Tula region, demanded 40 million rubles (1.3 million dollars) to allow the construction of a hypermarket, Channel One television said, citing prosecutors.

It showed the bespectacled official, 57, shielding his face from cameras as he was led into a courtroom on Friday for his detention behind bars to be sanctioned.

Volkov is also being investigated for himself bribing the head of the local government's human resources department to ensure that his wife and son were hired for prestigious jobs, the television report alleged.

President Dmitry Medvedev waged a campaign against corruption, one of the cornerstones of his election manifesto, but admitted last year that he had seen very little success, despite official media trumpeting a few investigations.

While Russia has a pervasive system of paying kickbacks to officials, who enjoy lifestyles far beyond their government salaries, few highly placed officials have been sentenced to significant punishments.

© 2011 AFP

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