‘Loss of confidence’: Putin dismisses Economy Minister Ulyukayev amid corruption probe

Russian Economy Minister Aleksey Ulyukayev has been dismissed from his post as a court in Moscow ordered him to be placed under house arrest. The official is being investigated on charges that he took a $2 million bribe and was involved in large-scale extortion.
Ulyukayev was dismissed from his Cabinet post by a presidential decree on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. The decision was taken due to “loss of confidence,” Peskov said.

He was placed under house arrest for two months until January 2017, a district court judge announced on Tuesday.

Ulyukayev reportedly demanded a bribe for granting a positive conclusion and assessment of transaction on the acquisition of Bashneft by Russia’s top oil company Rosneft. He was caught red-handed when receiving the bribe, Russia’s Investigative Committee revealed earlier in the day.

According to the Investigative Committee, Ulyukayev threatened he would use the leverage provided by his ministerial post to hinder Rosneft’s operations.

Rosneft representatives reported Ulyukayev’s alleged actions to the committee.

“Thanks to the Rosneft representatives’ timely address to law enforcement authorities with a statement about the economy minister’s illegal actions, he was caught red-handed on November 14 this year, while receiving a bribe of US$2 million,” Svetlana Petrenko, deputy head of the Investigative Committee, said in a statement.

Russian investigators had asked the court to order the house arrest of Ulyukayev, Petrenko said.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has appointed Deputy Economy Minister Evgeny Yelin as acting economy minister, a spokeswoman for the PM’s office said on Tuesday.

Ulyukayev has been transferred from the Investigative Committee’s building, where he was questioned on Tuesday morning, to Moscow’s Basmanny Court.

The interrogation, during which the minister officially had charges presented against him, lasted about five hours.

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