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Medvedev Calls Economy Minister’s Arrest 'Extraordinary Event' For Russia

The prime minister has called for a thorough investigation into the matter

The arrest of Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev is an extraordinary event for the government and the country in general, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.

"Minister Ulyukayev was dismissed due to the loss of trust, and he was charged with bribe-taking," Medvedev said opening the government meeting. "Certainly, this is an extraordinary event for the government and authorities in general in this country," he added.

Medvedev said he discussed the situation with the Russian president and lawmakers of the United Russia faction. "The incident once again confirms one inescapable conclusion that absolutely all citizens, including any representatives of authorities, regardless of their posts, are equal under the law."

The prime minister called for a thorough investigation into the matter, adding that "the court should close the chapter on the whole process."

He called on the Economic Development Ministry’s staff to continue working as one team despite Ulyukayev’s arrest. "I expect that the incident won’t affect the results of your everyday activity."

According to the Investigative Committee, Ulyukayev was detained on Monday on suspicion of receiving $2 mln for the positive assessment provided by the ministry that allowed Rosneft to purchase the government’s 50% stake in the Bashneft oil firm. The minister attempted to extort money and threaten Rosneft’s representatives, the committee’s spokesperson said. A Moscow district court ruled on Tuesday to place Ulyukayev under house arrest.

This is the first case when a federal minister has been detained in modern Russia. Ulyukayev had held the office since June 2013. He previously served as deputy chairman of Russia’s Central Bank for nearly a decade.

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