December 9, 2011 - 13:31 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Nearly 600 Russian officials who had enjoyed relative immunity from prosecution have been prosecuted on corruption charges during the first nine months of 2011, the head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, told the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily newspaper in an interview published on December 9.
“There are no untouchables for the Investigative Committee,” Bastrykin told the daily, referring to legislators, judges, prosecutors, mayors and investigators. To prosecute these officials, special permission has to be granted by relevant higher officials or institutions.
One such case involved the Chief of the Main Military Medical Directorate of the Russian Defense Ministry General Alexander Belevitin. He and one of his colleagues, Colonel Alexei Nikitin, were detained under suspicion of corruption in June 2011.
Bastrykin said that out of 594 such officials prosecuted in the first nine months of 2011, 59 were Interior Ministry officers, nine investigators from his own agency, eight drug policemen, 200 members of regional and municipal legislators, 208 mayors, 16 prosecutors, four judges and 49 defense attorneys.
In its latest annual corruption index released on December 1, the international corruption watchdog Transparency International ranked Russia 143rd out of 182 surveyed countries, putting it on par with Uganda and Nigeria.
According to various public opinion surveys, Russians have consistently named corruption among the biggest threats to the country's development over the past several years, RIA Novosti reported.