Russian Mayor Accused of Bribery, Extortion
Authorities arrested Yevgeny Urlashov, mayor of the Russian town of Yaroslavl, and charged him with extortion and bribery, according to the Associated Press.
The Investigative Committee in Yaroslavl, a town roughly 150 miles east of Moscow, said that Urlashov demanded a bribe of 14 million rubles ($420,000) from a contractor. Authorities said that this was part of a 45 million ruble bribe demanded from the same contractor, who has not been identified.
Urlashov won the mayoral race in a landslide (70 percent of the vote) in April 2012 against a Kremlin-backed candidate. Urlashov is an anti-corruption activist and one of the few opposition leaders to hold a major public office in Russia.
According to Russian political scientist Mikhail Tulsky, 50 mayors who defeated United Russia (the current ruling party) candidates were forcibly removed from office and charged with crimes during President Dmitry Medvedev’s 2008-2012 term.
Also arrested were deputy mayor Dmitry Donskov; head of the city agency for municipal contracts Maksim Poykalaynen; and mayoral adviser Aleksei Lopatin.
Urlashov, speaking on television, denied the charges. “The man from whom I did not accept city cleaning, road repairs, wrote a report that I extorted bribes from him,” he said. “I was warned that I would be removed one way or another.”
Officials said they found 20 million rubles in Urlashov’s apartment, $500,000 belonging to Urlashov in a neighbor’s apartment, and $200,000 in his spokeswoman’s office.
They were all charged with large-scale bribery and extortion. Convictions could 8- to 15-year jail sentences.