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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 City Prosecutors Charged With Graft

Two former senior Moscow prosecutors will go on trial next month on charges of giving another prosecutor a $5,000 bribe to drop criminal proceedings against a local gangster, officials said Wednesday.

Vyacheslav Filatov, deputy prosecutor in the central administrative district, and Alexander Potapov, first deputy prosecutor in the Tverskoy area, are accused of trying to illegally block the prosecution of Denis Rakitin.

Rakitin is believed to be a member of the notorious Solntsevo organized crime group and is wanted for alleged involvement in a 1993 kidnapping.

Last spring, Filatov and Potapov contacted the deputy prosecutor of the eastern administrative district, Valery Tsybulenko, who had Rakitin's case under his jurisdiction at the time.

The pair offered Tsybulenko $5,000 as "compensation for his efforts," an official with the city prosecutor's office said Wednesday in a phone interview.

The official said the two prosecutors were believed to have accepted $10,000 from a middleman acting on behalf of the Solntsevo gang.

Tsybulenko promised the two prosecutors to help close the case, but contacted the Federal Security Service, or FSB, instead.

Detectives of the FSB's Moscow area directorate detained Filatov and Potapov as they were handing over the $5,000 to Tsybulenko, the official in the prosecutor's office said.

Both were placed under arrest at the FSB's Lefortovo detention facility and charged with graft, said the official, who asked not to be identified.

Andrei Kostromin, spokesman for the FSB's Moscow area directorate, refused to comment on the case when reached by phone Wednesday.

Rakitin, whom the two were allegedly trying to get off the hook, is believed to have kidnapped an Azeri businessman in 1993.

Rakitin allegedly demanded a 60,000 ruble ransom from the businessman's wife, but the woman instead called police. Police detectives detained Rakitin and charged him with kidnapping.

However, charges were dropped later in 1993 and Rakitin was released. The Kommersant newspaper reported last May that a federal police detective was suspected of destroying key evidence in exchange for a hefty sum in U.S. dollars paid by the Solntsevo gang.

Prosecutors then took up Rakitin's case and resumed investigation only to find out that the suspect was gone.

In an effort to squelch the investigation, his mafia patrons managed to recruit the help of Potapov and Filatov, the prosecutor's office official said.

The two have already "partially admitted their guilt," according to the official.

The official said Potapov confessed to trying to bribe Tsybulenko, but insisted that he did so because some gangsters were threatening to hurt his wife if he refused. Potapov's lawyer Yevgeny Dombrovsky could not be reached by phone on Wednesday.

The two prosecutors were fired while awaiting their trial, which is set to begin next month.

"We get rid of those who have tarnished our profession regardless of their ranks," said Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for the city prosecutor's office.