Elista Mayor Investigated For Fees to Parents' Firm

Kalmykia's prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the mayor of the republic's capital on allegations that his administration overpaid for goods purchased from a company owned by his parents.

The abuse of office case involving Elista Mayor Rady Burulov centers on a municipal payment in 2006 of 16.9 million rubles ($720,000) for unspecified petroleum products from a local company called Barrel, according to a statement posted on the Kalmykia Prosecutor's Office web site.

An investigation showed that the sum exceeded the market price by more than $30,000, the statement said.

Further investigation revealed that Burulov's parents owned Barrel, it said.

"Out of selfish interest ... he signed a municipal contract on supplies for municipal use that caused material loss to the municipal budget of Elista to the tune of no less than 698,934 rubles," the statement said.

"Through parental links, Burulov was able to influence the activity [of the company]," it said.

The contract was automatically rendered invalid when the connection was discovered, the statement said.

Repeated calls to Barrel -- which, according to its web site, counts energy giants Gazprom and TNK-BP among its clients -- went unanswered Thursday, as did calls to Burulov's office and the Elista City Hall.

If charged and convicted, Burulov, whose City Hall web site profile lists awards such as a 2004 medal for Best Municipal Servant, faces up to two years in prison and a ban from holding public office.

Burulov is only the latest city mayor to run into problems with investigators.

Arkhangelsk Mayor Alexander Donskoi was convicted at the beginning of March of abuse of office and given a three-year suspended sentence, after he resigned from office.

Tolyatti Mayor Nikolai Utkin was sentenced to seven years in prison last month on corruption charges.

In June, former Volgograd Mayor Yevgeny Ishchenko was sentenced to one year in prison for illegal business activities and released, having served his time while in custody.

The republic of Kalmykia is run by eccentric millionaire Governor Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the president of the World Chess Federation who claims he was once abducted by aliens.