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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Former Yeltsin Adviser Charged With Bribery

The Moscow prosecutor has issued a warrant for the arrest of Sergei Stankevich, a former deputy mayor of Moscow and one-time political adviser to President Boris Yeltsin, on charges of accepting bribes nearly four years ago, a spokesman at the prosecutor's office said Tuesday.

Spokesman Vitaly Ryabov declined to give details of the case, which he said concerned bribes allegedly accepted by Stankevich while he was organizing an open-air concert in Red Square in 1992. Ryabov would not say how much money was involved, but a report in Izvestia put the sum at about $10,000.

The case arises at a time when the authorities are placing new emphasis on the need to take effective measures against corruption in the run-up to June's presidential election. In his state of the nation speech to both houses of parliament last week, Yeltsin announced that criminal proceedings were being launched against several high-placed officials accused of abusing their positions.

Ryabov said that the whereabouts of Stankevich, 42, were unknown but that he would be arrested when he was found. An official search has been started across the country.

Stankevich, a historian, was elected to the last Soviet parliament, the Congress of People's Deputies, in 1989. He joined the Inter-Regional Group of reformist deputies and soon rose to prominence as an advocate for political change and active defender of the rights of minority groups to free expression.

He was appointed first deputy mayor of Moscow under Gavriil Popov in 1990, remaining in office for two years. He was a strong supporter of Yeltsin during the 1991 presidential election campaign, and in September 1992 he joined Yeltsin's staff as a political adviser, returning to parliament as a State Duma deputy in the elections of December 1993.

Itar-Tass said a corruption investigation was launched soon after the concert and Stankevich had provided testimony in a case against a fellow organizer, named as Sokhadze. Last April, then acting Prosecutor General Alexei Ilyushenko appealed to the Duma for permission to charge Stankevich with alleged bribe-taking, but the Duma declined to lift his immunity from prosecution, according to Itar-Tass.

The matter was allowed to rest until after December's Duma elections, as a result of which Stankevich lost both his seat and his immunity.

According to Izvestia, Stankevich faces charges under Article 173 of the Criminal Code, which covers "receiving by an official figure, either personally or through an intermediary, any sort of bribe for carrying out or not carrying out a specific action by means of that person's official position."

If convicted, Stankevich would face imprisonment for up to 10 years, with confiscation of property.