Russian investigators will close the bribery case against a senior official in the Presidential Property Management Department because key evidence has been destroyed and the prosecution’s star witness is in the UK seeking political asylum, Kommersant said on Friday.
The case against Vladimir Leshchevsky, deputy chief of federal construction projects in the Presidential Property Management Department, was opened in August 2010 and is set to expire on May 11.
“I have absolutely no doubt that my client is innocent and the case will be dropped,” said lawyer Said-Akhmed Arsamirzayev.
The Investigative Committee declined to comment.
In June 2010, Valery Morozov, head of the Moskonversprom company, accused Leshchevsky of extortion, saying he demanded a 12% kickback on a 1.5-billion ruble ($50 million) contract to build Olympic facilities in Sochi for the 2014 winter games.
Morozov’s company had won two tenders to design and build two large facilities in Sochi in 2006 and 2009. Morozov said Leshchevsky had demanded 15 million rubles ($500,000) from him for further participation in the project.
Morozov went for help to the economic security department of the Interior Ministry, which videotaped meetings between Morozov and Leshchevsky, when the latter allegedly received the sought-for 15 million rubles. The videos were later destroyed because Morozov “had not asked for them in the time period set by the law”.
Meanwhile, the investigators began looking into Morozov’s affairs and discovered tax evasion totaling 94.5 million rubles. Then dozens of companies went to sue Morozov’s Moskonversprom, and the Arbitration Court of Moscow ruled to monitor the company.
Morozov himself, “fearing for his life and a possible arrest on fabricated charges,” left Russia for London, where he is applying for a political asylum. The British Home Office refused to comment, while the Russian Investigative Committee and the Interior Ministry did not confirm any criminal charges against Morozov. He himself promised to provide comments later.