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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Phone Tapping Trial Opens

Itar-TassPlotnikov sitting between two of the other defendants in the prisoner's cage Monday in Moscow's City Court.
Five police officers went on trial Wednesday in the Moscow City Court accused of illegally tapping telephone conversations and selling the recordings to a local businessman.

Together with city police officer Fyodr Shanin, Interior Ministry officers Boris Plotnikov, Leonid Vedrov, Sergei Zubarev and Anton Zukov have been charged with accepting $42,000 from businessman Yevgeny Slavinsky in exchange for providing Slavinsky with a compact disc containing the telephone conversations of "several citizens," according to a statement by the Prosecutor General's Office.

The trial will be closed to the public, court spokeswoman Alexandra Volkova said Monday.

Prosecutors accuse Plotnikov of being the mastermind of the operation who brought the other defendants on board because of their "direct access to technical means intended for secret acquisition of information."

All five defendants have been charged with conspiring to accept a bribe and could face up to 12 years in prison if convicted.

Slavinsky has been charged with giving a bribe, punishable by up to three years in prison.

Wednesday's session was adjourned early Monday because one of the defendants' lawyers failed to appear in court. The next hearing was set for Aug. 22, court spokeswoman Anna Usachyova told Interfax.

In a similar case in June, city prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into the activities of a senior city police official suspected of accepting $10,000 and 260,000 rubles ($10,000) in cash in exchange for the transcripts of telephone conversations that had been illegally recorded, the Prosecutor General's Office said.

The official is currently in custody pending the investigation, prosecutors said.

Interfax identified the detained officer as Mikhail Yanykin, deputy head of the city police department responsible for wiretapping and covert videotaping operations.