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MOSCOW, March 20. /TASS/. Former governor of Russia’s Urals Chelyabinsk region, Mikhail Yurevich, has been charged in absentia with bribe taking to an overall sum of 26 million rubles (453,000 U.S. dollars) and incitement to slander.
"According to investigators, Yurevich systematically took bribes from Chelyabinsk region’s Minister of Health Vitaly Teslenko to an overall sum of 26 million rubles," Russian Investigative Committee Spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said on Monday. "Apart from that, Yurevich was found to have incited his first deputy Oleg Grachev to voice defaming pronouncements against the Chelyabinsk region court chairman when speaking to Russia’s television Channel One in December 2012. Channel One refuted his words in November 2013 as ruled by a Moscow district court."
According to Peternko, the local department of Russia’s Investigative Committee ruled to bring Yurevich to responsibility on charges of bribe taking and incitement to slander. However he ignored two summons for questioning, sending a written notification of his staying in Israel. In case he ignores a third summons, he will be put on a wanted list, the spokeswoman added.
Mikhail Yurevich, 46, was Chelyabinsk region governor from 2010 to January 2014 when he vacated his office ahead of his due term. He was elected to the Russian State Duma lower parliament house but did not take his seat in the parliament as the Central Election Commission had excluded him from the election list of the Russian Party of Pensioners for Justice over discrepancies in registration documents.
The corruption scandal in Chelyabinsk region’s health sector flared in late October 2012 when a criminal case on fraud charges was opened against Vitaly Teslenko who was charges with taking a 28-million-ruble (roughly 875,000 U.S. dollars at the then exchange rate) while signing a state contract for the purchase of medical equipment. In the autumn of 2014, Teslenko was convicted for taking a bribe to a sum of 70 million rubles. He admitted his guilt and helped investigators. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and a fine of 300 million rubles. A court of appeals later reduced the fine to 100 million.
Meanwhile, lawyer Igor Trunov, who represents Yurevich’s interests, told TASS on March 17 Yurevich was undergoing medical treatment in Israel and would be available for questioning as soon as he feels well enough. "He is not going to hide," he said.