Russian ex-minister pleads innocence at corruption trial
Moscow, Russia - Russia’s former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev on Tuesday insisted he was innocent as his high-profile bribery trial began in Moscow.
Ulyukayev (61) was arrested in November 2016 while still a minister, the first time in decades an acting cabinet member had been detained and criminally charged.
He denies having taken a US$2mn kickback (€1.7mn) to clear state oil giant Rosneft to acquire a stake in oil firm Bashneft. Looking visibly thinner, the ex-minister said he had lost 14kg in the course of the case. “Thanks to our justice system. I did not take bribes. It’s all a provocation.”
Investigators say he was caught red-handed accepting the cash. The identity of the person who allegedly paid the bribe has not been revealed. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
The next hearing is on August 16, when Ulyukayev will be expected to make a formal plea. The court also extended his house arrest by another six months.