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Court postpones case against ex-minister Ulyukayev to September 1

MOSCOW, August 16. /TASS/. Zamoskvoretsky District Court of Moscow postponed continuation of hearings on the case of former Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev, accused of taking a bribe of $2 mln, to September 1, TASS reported from the courtroom.

The court ordered "to satisfy the request of the prosecutor's office, to postpone the meeting to 10:00 Moscow time on September 1 in connection with the need to call witnesses," Judge Larisa Semenova announced.

At the same time, the court established the procedure for the judicial investigation: to interrogate the prosecution witnesses, to study the written evidence of the prosecution, to interrogate the witnesses of the defense and examine their evidence, and, lastly, interrogate the accused Ulyukaev.

Earlier the Court refused to return the criminal case against former Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev, accused of taking a $2 mln bribe, to the Russian Prosecutor General's Office. "The court ruled to leave the defense’s petition without satisfaction," Judge Larisa Semenova said.

She added "the court found no material violations of the law in the indictment, which could not be eliminated in court. The law does not require reading out the indictment. The prosecutor stated the conclusion in an accessible, understandable form," the judge said.

Earlier, the defense of the ex-minister asked to return the case to the Prosecutor's office due to the fact that the indictment read out in court differs significantly from the one presented to their client and available earlier. "If the state prosecutor went beyond the charges, we should ask the prosecutor to return the case," lawyer Timofei Gridnev said. "It is significantly different from what was presented before, which does not allow us to conduct a normal line of defense," he added.

Russia’s Investigative Committee charged Ulyukaev under Part 6 of Article 290 of Russia’s Criminal Code ("Taking a bribe by a person holding public office in the Russian Federation, in a particularly large amount"). The former minister does not admit his guilt.

Detention of the federal minister, which was the first one in history of modern Russia, took place on November 14, 2016. According to the Investigative Committee, Ulyukayev was detained on receiving a bribe of $2 mln. The bribe was given for the ministry’s positive expertise in privatization of Bashneft oil company. That allowed Rosneft to buy out 50.08% of Bashneft shares from the state. Moreover, according to the investigation, the case concerns extortion coupled with threats to representatives of Rosneft.

On November 15, 2016, President Vladimir Putin dismissed Ulyukayev from his post in connection with the loss of confidence. The former minister is under house arrest, which has been extended until January 27, 2018.