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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tolyatti's Mayor Is Detained over $5.8M Property Bribe

Itar-TassMayor Nikolai Utkin in December.
Tolyatti's mayor has been detained on suspicion of demanding a multimillion-dollar bribe, prosecutors said Wednesday, the latest in a string of mayors and governors to be targeted for corruption.

Tolyatti Mayor Nikolai Utkin was detained Tuesday after authorities seized a man suspected of being a go-between for a 25 million ruble ($970,500) bribe, the Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The money was the first installment of a 150 million ruble ($5.8 million) bribe that Utkin had demanded as part of a real estate deal, prosecutors said.

Along with Utkin and the suspected middleman, Alexander Sidorov, authorities arrested Natalya Nemykh, head of the Tolyatti city government's land resources department.

Prosecutors have classified the case as conspiracy to commit extortion. If charged and convicted, the three suspects could face up to 12 years in prison.

Utkin's detention comes amid Kremlin efforts to crack down on corrupt officials and consolidate control over the country's far-flung regions.

Several governors and mayors around the country have been arrested or investigated for corruption in the past year.

AP, MT