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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Months After Arrest, City Official Suspended

The head of the Moscow Registration Chamber was officially suspended this week, nearly two months after he was arrested on charges of bribe-taking.

Igor Alexandrov, who headed the city agency responsible for registering all commercial firms operating in Moscow, was detained in February. He was charged with having taken at least three bribes from companies undergoing registration, according to officials at the Interior Ministry's investigative committee, which initiated the suspension and is handling the case.

There are some 600,000 companies registered with the chamber.

Alexandrov is suspected of taking the bribes together with his deputy, Alexander Sevostyanov, who was arrested earlier in February and subsequently charged. Sevastyanov remains in custody, while Alexandrov was released from a detention facility April 17 on the condition that he not leave Moscow. If convicted, the two could face up to 12 years in prison and confiscation of their property.

One investigative committee official, who asked not to be named, said in a telephone interview Thursday the pair are suspected of having repeatedly extorted very large sums from companies trying to register with the chamber, but would not elaborate.

The committee's official spokesman, Vladimir Martynov, said it remains unclear when the investigation might be completed and when the case would go to court.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has criticized the case as "political," and his deputy, Oleg Tolkachyov, was recently quoted as saying Alexandrov's arrest was a reverberation of the standoff between the city and the Interior Ministry over the suspension of Moscow's police chief, Luzhkov ally Nikolai Kulikov.

According to Martynov, however, "there is nothing political" in Alexandrov's case.

Martynov would not comment on reports in the anti-Luzhkov Noviye Izvestia daily that the city police's economic-crimes unit obtained the first evidence in the case as far back as 1997 but could not act because Alexandrov enjoyed the support of Luzhkov, who in turn exercised great influence over Kulikov.