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Kremlin: Economy minister's arrest will not affect Rosneft-Bashneft deal

Economic Development Minister Ulyukayev was detained on suspicion of taking a $2 mln bribe which allowed Rosneft to complete the deal on purchasing the government's 50% stake in Bashneft
Alexey Ulyukayev  Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Alexey Ulyukayev
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

SOCHI, November 15. /TASS/. President Vladimir Putin has not yet made any decision on dismissing Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev who was detained for allegedly taking a bribe, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

"I don’t know if President Putin took such a decision on the dismissal either independently or upon recommendation of the head of government," Peskov said.

Peskov stressed that the fight against corruption in Russia is carried out "consistently, systematically, indiscriminately and regardless of positions." He recalled the case of Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak, who was detained on suspicion of attempting to embezzle budget funds, but was later released. "These are different situations," Peskov said.

Speaking on why the president has not so far sacked Ulyukayev, Peskov said that "rather serious grounds are needed" for that. "There is the need for initial information backed by arguments and they should be as serious as the charges."

This is the first case when a federal minister has been detained in the history of modern Russia. Ulyukayev has held the office since June 2013. He previously served as deputy chairman of Russia’s Central Bank for nearly a decade. 

The criminal case opened against Russian Economy Minister Alexey Ulyukayev will not affect the deal of Bashneft shares acquisition by Rosneft:

"As far as I understand, an Investigative Committee’s representative has already said this case is unrelated to the deal at all and is not related to Rosneft company," Peskov said. "As far as we are aware, no relation exists in this regard," he added.

Investment climate in Russia 

Case opening against Russian Economy Minister Alexey Ulyukayev will not adversely affect the investment climate in Russia,  Peskov pointed out.

"No, I don’t think so," Peskov said. "On the contrary, understanding that the fight against corruption, irrespective of positions, is held on a regular and consequential basis, is an extra plus to the investment appeal of any country."

"This is because there are no countries free from corruption across the globe," the press secretary added.

Meanwhile, it is not correct to mention Ulyukayev’s name in the context of combating corruption "because only the court may give such a definition," Peskov said.

The case against Alexey Ulyukayev

Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev was detained on suspicion of taking a $2 mln bribe, that allowed Rosneft to complete the deal on purchasing the government's 50% stake in Bashneft.  

Investigators have brought official charges against Ulyukayev, Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko has told TASS.

"He is accused of gross bribe-taking and extortion," she said.

"The accused voiced threats he would use his official powers to create hindrances to the company’s operation in the future," Petrenko said.

Rosneft officials had complained to law enforcement agencies over Ulyukayev's illegal actions, she added. 

"Rosneft representatives timely contacted the law enforcement authorities. On November 14 Ulyukayev was detained at the moment he was receiving a bribe of $2 million," she said.

"The information of some allegedly informed mass media outlets about the way how Alexey Ulyukayev received the bribe is nothing more than unfounded phantasy and speculation," Petrenko went on. 

She reiterated that "Ulyukayev was caught red-handed - that means at the moment when he received the bribe."

Deputy Minister of Economic Development Alexei Vedev will temporarily perform the duties of the minister while Alexei Ulyukayev is under investigation, two sources in the ministry told TASS.