By Germain MOYON
Russia’s ex-economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev on Wednesday accused the top of state oil big Rosneft, a strong ally of President Vladimir Putin, of personally entrapping him as he’s accused of taking an enormous bribe.
Russia on Wednesday started the primary full listening to in Ulyukayev’s bribery trial, the highest-profile legal case in opposition to a prime official in many years.
Ulyukayev was arrested in November whereas nonetheless a minister, allegedly caught red-handed after demanding a $2-million (1.7-million-euro) bribe in return for greenlighting state oil big Rosneft’s acquisition of a stake in one other oil firm Bashneft.
The 61-year-old denies the charge of large official bribe-taking, for which he may resist 15 years in jail.
In courtroom he angrily defended himself, saying he was seized in a sting operation organised by the FSB, the successor to the KGB, in “a provocation organised from on high on the basis of a false accusation.”
Ulyukayev stated the safety companies arrange the sting on the idea of “fabricated” accusations, “based solely on Sechin’s claims.”
He stated he was lured to the Rosneft workplaces by Sechin. It was there case containing the bribe cash was handed over. Ulyukayev was arrested as he tried to drive away with the cash within the boot of his automotive.
Ulyukayev stated he went to the assembly after “Sechin called me personally… and persuaded me to come to Rosneft.”
The prosecution concurs that Sechin arrange the assembly and handed over the cash, however stated he did this in cooperation with the safety forces after Ulyukayev demanded the cash at a summit in India in return for approving the high-profile Bashneft deal.
Ulyukayev had initially opposed the sale of the stake in Bashneft to Rosneft however later endorsed it after Putin stated it may assist fill state coffers.
Rosneft’s spokesman Mikhail Leontyev instructed RIA Novosti state information company: “The fact remains: Ulyukayev himself demanded unlawful reward for carrying out his official duties, he came to collect it himself and himself left the meeting place with the money. What else can you add?”
The prosecution has requested for Sechin to be summoned as a witness at the trial. A courtroom showdown between such senior figures could be extremely uncommon and it’s unclear whether or not Sechin will attend in particular person.
Sechin, 56, previously served as deputy prime minister and as Putin’s deputy chief of employees and advisor and is a detailed confidant of the Kremlin strongman. Since taking charge of Rosneft in 2012, he has constructed it up into the world’s largest publicly traded oil firm.
A fluent Portuguese speaker, he labored as a army interpreter in Mozambique and Angola and unconfirmed rumours swirl that he was a KGB spy.
He labored with Putin in Saint Petersburg within the 1990s and moved with him to Moscow to take up posts within the Kremlin. He is seen as a key determine within the clan of highly effective safety figures referred to as the “siloviki.”
– Reading Chekhov’s ‘Murder’ –
Wearing a striped blue polo shirt, Ulyukayev sat at a desk within the packed courtroom in Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky district courtroom.
He is being held below home arrest, not in jail, and instructed journalists earlier than the listening to that he has been studying a brief story by Anton Chekhov known as “Murder”.
“Chekhov writes a lot about courts and investigators. Nothing has changed in 150 years,” he stated.
Ulyukayev’s arrest final yr despatched shock waves by way of Russia’s elite.
Recognised as a member of the federal government’s liberal wing, Ulyukayev had labored with Yegor Gaidar, a former liberal prime minister who masterminded the “shock therapy” financial reforms of the early 1990s blamed by Russians for wiping out their financial savings.
He had known as for reforms together with lifting the age of retirement and liberalising the labour market.
Putin sacked him as economic system minister — a job he had held since 2013 — within the wake of his detention.
The subsequent listening to in his trial might be on September 1.