MOSCOW, February 15 (RIA Novosti) – Head of Russia’s Federal Fisheries Agency Andrei Krayniy faces charges of forgery, after investigators found he had backdated the dismissal of a corrupt official, an Investigative Committee spokesman said on Friday.
Sergei Muravyov, the head of the Northwest Territorial Administration of Rosrybolovstvo, was detained in May 2011 as he accepted a 5 million ruble ($166,000) bribe.
Muravyov has been charged with large-scale bribe-taking, abuse of power and forgery. Investigators said he received 26 million rubles ($863,000) in bribes for hiring staff without experience and skills in the area of fishing control.
Investigators found that Krayniy “acted out of his personal interest” when he fired Muravyov post factum, just two days before the latter was detained, so that Muravyov’s actions could be qualified as fraud, which is a less serious crime than bribery, Vladimir Markin of the Investigative Committee said.
Meanwhile, Krayniy said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper published on Friday: “I have nothing to be afraid of, I have violated no law. Such checks are always being conducted. There are often criminal cases and questionings that end in nothing.”
Experts believe the criminal case against Krayniy attests to the fact that the struggle against corrupt officials in Russia is ongoing.
However, political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky has linked the latest investigation against Krayniy to a turf war for his high post.
“This criminal case will be developing. Evidently, the investigation is linked to a struggle for the post of Rosrybolovstvo director, and to some degree bespeaks Krainy’s dismissal. But this issue is on the table and it will be decided at the last moment by the president himself,” Belkovsky said.
Krayniy, 54, was appointed head of Rosrybolovstvo in May 2007. Since then, Rosrybolovstvo changed its legal status twice, becoming a state committee for fishery in October 2007 and a federal agency in May 2008.
In 2010, Russia’s Federal Fisheries Agency announced plans to introduce new regulations on sport and recreational fishing and to impose restrictions on the permissible catch. The plans caused discontent in Russia. Late last year, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev assured that fishing will remain free for all Russians.