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Former head of Russia's Mari El Republic detained over suspected bribe-taking

The Investigative Committee suspects Leonid Markelov of an attempt to take a bribe worth $4.417 million

MOSCOW, April 13./TASS/. The Russian Investigative Committee has detained the former head of Russia’s Mari El Republic in the east of Russia's European part, Leonid Markelov, over suspected bribe-taking, the lawyer of another suspect in the case, entrepreneur Nikolai Krivashin, told TASS on Thursday.

Lawyer Igor Trunov said the Investigative Committee suspects Markelov of an attempt to take a bribe worth 250 million rubles ($4.417 million). He said criminal proceedings were instituted on April 12.

The lawyer said three people were targeted in the investigation - "Markelov, who has been detained, as well as bribe-givers - Nikolai Krivashin and the head of local TV channel ‘Region12’, Maria Kozhevnikova".

"Searches are under way in Moscow in the apartment of Markelov’s daughter and in the house of his wife. Also, searches are conducted in Mari El," the lawyer said.

Trunov said Krivashin has not been detained as of yet, as he is currently staying abroad. Criminal proceedings have been instituted under three articles of the Russian Criminal Code - ‘Bribe-taking on an especially large scale’, ‘Bribe-giving on an especially large scale’ and ‘Mediation in bribery’.

The lawyer believes Markelov will be shortly brought to Moscow for investigation and a measure of restraint will be chosen.

On April 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to relive of his duties as head of the Mari El Republic Leonid Markelov following his request.

The chairman of the Moscow region’s arbitrary court and president’s former deputy envoy to the Volga Federal District, Alexander Yevstifeyev, was appointed as acting head of the republic.

On April 7, a source in the republic’s government said Markelov would like to continue work at the Federation Council upper house of parliament.

Markelov was first elected head of the republic in January 2001, while in 2004 he was reelected with the support of United Russia party. In 2009, the parliament of Mari El approved him for a third term. On January 14, 2015, he was appointed acting head of the region. On September 13, 2015, he was reelected head of Mari El after the first round of the gubernatorial election.