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MOSCOW, November 15. /TASS/. The dismissal of Alexei Ulyukayev, who was relieved of his duties Tuesday amid a bribe-taking probe, was necessary to ensure that the Ministry of Economic Development works normally ahead of the adoption of the new draft federal budget, a senior Russian lawmaker said Tuesday.
"It is evident that this person cannot head the ministry any further, and, respectively, the president made the decision that was to be made in this situation, evidently with an aim to find a replacement as soon as possible," said Yaroslav Nilov, the deputy head of the LDPR party faction in the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament.
"The aim is to keep the ministry’s work running, taking into account that the current economic period is far from being favorable, the country is in crisis and the process of the (adoption of the) budget is under way," the lawmaker said.
The Russian draft federal budget is expected to be passed on Friday.
"In this situation, the economic development ministry is crucial as a part of the government’s financial and economic panel. That’s why this entire story must have absolutely no impact on the budget process, let alone paralyze it," Nilov said.
The Kremlin press service said Tuesday that Ulyukayev was relieved of his duties "over the loss of confidence." The announcement came shortly after the Russian Investigative Committee said Ulyukayev was under investigation for possible bribe-taking.
Russian Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said Ulyukayev had been detained late on Monday as he received two million U.S. dollars as a bribe in exchange for the economic ministry’s positive appraisal that allowed the oil major Rosneft to buy out from the state a 50.08% stake in the oil company Bashneft. Petrenko added that the extortion of the bribe was accompanied by threats against Rosneft representatives.
Moscow’s Basmanny district court has ruled to place him under house arrest till January 15.