MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) – Police searched the office of the Kirov regional governor on Tuesday in connection with alleged fraud that took place in 2010 and was linked to prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
Investigators, anti-corruption police and Federal Security Service (FSB) forces carried out a search of Governor Nikita Belykh’s office in connection with the 2010 privatization of the local Urzhumsky distillery, which allegedly involved fraud concerning 25.5 percent of its shares, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
The search was supposed to turn up papers linked to the distillery deal, in which, investigators said, the shares were underpriced by up to 90 million rubles ($3 million). Belykh will be questioned after the search, the committee said in a statement.
Three people have been taken into custody in connection with the case. One official, the former director of the regional property division Konstantin Arzamastsev, has been put on the “wanted” list.
Earlier official reports indicated that investigators are also considering targeting Navalny, the whistleblower and anti-corruption crusader who served as Belykh’s pro bono advisor in 2009, in connection with the case. Earlier this month, investigators brought final charges against Navalny for his alleged role in the embezzlement of 10,000 cubic meters of timber at the KirovLes state-run timber factory while he worked in the region.
The regional branch of the Communist Party reported on its website that the governor’s residence on the shore of the region’s Black Lake was also searched. Belykh could not be reached for comment.