MOSCOW, November 13 (RIA Novosti) – The mayor of the southern Russian city of Astrakhan was detained Wednesday as part of a pending criminal case, police said.
Mayor Mikhail Stolyarov, who is a member of the pro-Kremlin ruling party United Russia, is reportedly suspected of extorting a bribe.
“We confirm that the mayor of Astrakhan has been detained,” a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said, declining to provide further detail.
Russia’s Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said Stolyarov “was detained while taking a bribe of ten million rubles [about $300,000]” and would be transferred to Moscow soon.
Sergei Neverov, the secretary of United Russia’s ruling body, said earlier in the day that the party would consider suspending Stolyarov’s membership if a criminal case was launched against him.
Kommersant daily reported on its website that police had stopped the politician’s car and handcuffed him in the center of the Volga River city. The report said he has been accused of demanding a bribe of 200 million rubles ($6.1 million).
Stolyarov has been in office since early last year following an election that prompted a wave of mass protests on a scale unusual outside the Russian capital.
The opposition and numerous observers questioned the fairness of the vote, citing numerous documented cases of rigging.