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In Russia Major corruption scandals

Investigators published photos of Belykh sitting in a darkened room at a table piled with stacks of 100-euro notes.

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Nikita Belykh, accused by Russia's Investigative Committee of accepting a bribe of 400,000 euros ($430,800), stands inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at the Basmanny district court in Moscow on June 25, 2016 play

Nikita Belykh, accused by Russia's Investigative Committee of accepting a bribe of 400,000 euros ($430,800), stands inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at the Basmanny district court in Moscow on June 25, 2016

(AFP/File)

The detention of Russian economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev Tuesday on suspicion of taking a $2 million bribe is the latest high-level corruption scandal in Russia involving top officials in recent years.

Three governors in a year

In June this year, Nikita Belykh, the liberal-leaning governor of the central Russian Kirov region, was arrested in a restaurant in Moscow, allegedly in the act of accepting a bribe of 400,000 euros ($430,800).

Investigators published photos of Belykh sitting in a darkened room at a table piled with stacks of 100-euro notes.

Nikita Belykh, accused by Russia's Investigative Committee of accepting a bribe of 400,000 euros ($430,800), stands inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at the Basmanny district court in Moscow on June 25, 2016 play

Nikita Belykh, accused by Russia's Investigative Committee of accepting a bribe of 400,000 euros ($430,800), stands inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at the Basmanny district court in Moscow on June 25, 2016

(AFP/File)

Belykh was the third Russian governor to be arrested on suspicions of corruption in just over a year.

In March 2015, the governor of the far eastern gas hub of Sakhalin, Alexander Khoroshavin, was arrested on suspicion of taking a massive bribe and is now in jail pending trial.

Investigators said they searched Khoroshavin's properties both on the island of Sakhalin and in Moscow and confiscated large sums of money in rubles and foreign currency as well as jewellery, costly watches and mobile phones.

In September 2015, the governor of the remote northwestern region of Komi, Vyacheslav Gaizer, was arrested and charged with leading a criminal organisation and committing fraud.

All three are now awaiting trial in Moscow's notoriously harsh Lefortovo jail.

Also on Tuesday, two deputy governors in the coal-rich region of Kemerovo were detained as investigators launched a probe into possible extortion of a coalmine stake worth one billion rubles ($15.3 million).

Defence officials

Investigators have also turned up corruption in Russia's vast armed forces, although this has not resulted in serious punishment.

Russia's former defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov reviews troops during a Victory Day parade at the Red Square in Moscow in May 2012 play

Russia's former defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov reviews troops during a Victory Day parade at the Red Square in Moscow in May 2012

(AFP/File)

Anatoly Serdyukov was fired from his post as defence minister in 2012 over his alleged role in a multi-million-dollar illegal property scam. He only ever faced a minor charge, however, and his case was subsequently closed.

In May 2015, a former senior defence official Yevgeniya Vasilyeva -- reportedly romantically involved with Serdyukov -- was sentenced to five years in prison for defrauding the state of 328 million rubles ($5 million at the current exchange rate), as part of the same probe.

However, she was pardoned after around three months.

Later in August 2015, the former commander of Russia's land forces, Vladimir Chirkin, was sentenced to five years in jail for taking a bribe.

One of the most senior Russian military officers ever to be convicted of corruption, he was found guilty of taking a bribe of 450,000 rubles (at the time $20,000) to help an officer receive a service flat.

However months later, a military tribunal on appeal reduced his charge to a less serious one and ruled he could pay a fine of 90,000 rubles instead of going to jail.

Customs head

Andrei Belyaninov attends a cabinet meeting in Moscow in October 2013 play

Andrei Belyaninov attends a cabinet meeting in Moscow in October 2013

(RIA-NOVOSTI/AFP)

In July, the customs chief Andrei Belyaninov -- a former KGB agent who served in East Germany in the 1980s along with Putin -- was targeted in a probe into the alleged smuggling of high-end liquor.

Media released images of investigators rifling through shoeboxes stuffed with cash in his luxury villa equipped with a swimming pool and works of art. Belyaninov was not charged but he tendered his resignation.

Anti-corruption chief

In September, the acting head of an anti-graft agency at the Russian interior ministry, Dmitry Zakharchenko, was himself busted in a corruption probe.

He was charged with abuse of power, obstructing the investigation and taking an exceptionally large bribe -- which he denies -- after police found banknotes worth more than $120 million stored in boxes and plastic bags during a raid on his Moscow flat.

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