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Police catch Yaroslavl mayor's advisor in attempted bribery case

July 03, 2013, 15:36 UTC+3
Agents of the department for economic security and combating corruption detained in Yaroslavl Alexei Lopatin, an advisor to mayor Yevgeny Urlashov
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MOSCOW, July 3 (Itar-Tass) - Police have detained Yaroslavl mayor's advisor Alexei Lopatin, who has been hiding from law-enforcement bodies, the Interior Ministry's press service told Itar-Tass.

"Today, agents of the department for economic security and combating corruption detained in Yaroslavl Alexei Lopatin, an advisor to mayor Yevgeny Urlashov, who is a suspect in the case over attempted taking of a large bribe," a police official said.

He added that the description of the suspect's appearance helped police detain him and that he did not resist the detention.

Lopatin is now being questioned.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the presidential human rights council /SPCh/ will arrive in Yaroslav on July 4 with a fact-finding mission, following Urlashov's arrest.

"The members of our council will study the situation. Such a detention during the election campaign arouses suspicions; perhaps, there is political motivation there. So far, we don't know the answer; the society is interested in getting it," SPCh head Mikhail Fedotov told the newspaper Izvestia.

Delegation member, chairman of the national Anti-Corruption Committee Kirill Kabanov asked Fedotov to conduct a public investigation.

"To examine the circumstances of Urlashov's detention, three of us leave for Yaroslavl tomorrow: council expert, former investigator Pavel Zaitsev, president of the regional public fund for combating organized crime and corruption ANTIMAFIA Yevgeny Myslovsky and I," Kabanov said, "we're now asking the investigator to provide the necessary information to us. It is not in their interests to hide anything."

The Izvestia noted that the Council might hold an emergency session by the results of the trip to Yaroslavl. However, no date for the meeting has been set yet.

State Duma lawmaker, head of the central regional coordinating council of United Russia Party Sergei Fabrichny called for not politicizing the situation. "As for the detention, the main thing is that the investigation conducted by law-enforcement bodies should be open and public. There should be no politics here, especially because it happened amid a complicated election campaign in the Yaroslavl region," Fabrichny told Tass, calling for having patience to wait for comments by police.

Speaking about the situation in Yaroslavl, he noted that the conflict between government bodies and town self-rule bodies had long become public. "It is crucial that town dwellers do not suffer from this conflict," he said.

On June 5, Yaroslavl legislators discussed the situation in town, and criticized the municipal economy management. "It was stated at the meeting that Yaroslavl was at 10th place in terms of the effectiveness of local self-rule bodies. In 2012, it was ranked 10th /among other 20 towns/ where as in 2011 it ranked first.

On Wednesday, Secretary General of United Russia Sergei Neverov told Tass that "police must have serious reasons for detaining the mayor."

“If they are not produced and brought to the attention of the society, this looks extremely strange and inadmissible ahead of the upcoming election,” he stressed.

For her part, chairwoman of the parliament committee for security and combating corruption Irina Yarovaya /United Russia faction/ believes it is most important not to interfere with the work by law-enforcement bodies. "Their task is to act according to the procedure established by law," she said.

The lawmaker noted that law-enforcement bodies "cannot fail to act if signs of any crime are exposed."

Urlashov, formerly a United Russia member, planned to lead the regional list of the Civil Platform Party at the upcoming elections to the regional parliament on September 8.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin claimed that the SK has solid proof of his culpability.

Other suspects in the case are Urlashov's deputy Dmitry Donskov, head of the Town Hall agency for municipal procurements Maxim Poikalainen, mayor's advisor Alexei Lopatin, and a 34-year-old resident of the Yaroslavl region suspected of mediating a bribe.

The spokesman noted that "some politicians, without clarifying the situation, are trying to publicly put pressure on the investigators. They are actually forcing us to produce substantial reasons or evidence of Yaroslavl mayor Urlashov's involvement in the crime. Such evidence has already been presented, although it is not in the interests of investigation, and some proofs we'll show in the near future."

For example, the investigators have materials of operations, including audio and video recordings where "Urlashov personally writes the percentage he demands from a businessman as a "kickback." There are also telephone conversations in which he demands that his subordinates press the businessman for urgent payments, as "others are already paying," otherwise, he would not pay him for completed works. There's a video of a search in Urlashov's apartment where 500,000 U.S. dollars were found. The sum is considerable given the mayor's monthly salary of 100,000 roubles and an annual income of 130,000 roubles which he had declared before being elected to the post of mayor," Markin said.

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