A former high-ranking official has been detained in Krasnodar as part of a wide-ranging corruption investigation into officials from the Russian Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Sergei Rybnikov, who headed the investigative unit at the ministry’s internal security department, had been on an international wanted list since May.
The Internal Security Department is responsible for investigating crimes within the ministry.
The Russian Investigative Committee announced the arrest on 27 September.
On 30 May, 12 people were detained during a special operation by the Main Directorate of the Russian Investigative Committee on suspicion of participating in a ‘criminal community’.
According to the committee, 16 people have now been detained in the case, 15 of whom were current or former officials in the republic’s interior ministry.
According to investigators, the criminal community was active in Kabardino-Balkaria in 2017–2018 providing safe transportation for illegal alcoholic beverages in exchange for bribes.
According to the Investigative Committee, the group solicited bribes of at least ₽42 million ($650,000).
The detainees are suspected of abusing their positions to solicit bribes as an organised group and on a large scale; they each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
[Read more on OC Media: High-ranking police officials arrested in Kabardino-Balkaria on corruption charges]
‘Rybnikov is the second in the criminal community’
According to the investigation, the ringleader of the criminal community was Yuri Nagoyev, the former deputy head of the republic’s state traffic inspectorate.
However, a source in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kabardino-Balkaria told OC Media that former Interior Minister of Kabardino-Balkaria Igor Romashkin led the group, with Rybnikov serving as his second-in-command.
Five days after Rybnikov’s arrest, Romashkin was reappointed by President Vladimir Putin to head the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Astrakhan Oblast.
According to the source, Nagoyev confessed to leading the corruption scheme after making a deal with investigators.
A new Minister of Internal Affairs of Kabardino-Balkaria has yet to be appointed.
The source said Rybnikov was Romashkin’s first appointment on becoming Interior Minister of Kabardino-Balkaria in 2015.
According to him, corruption has become systemic in the Internal Security Department, the purpose of which is to fight corruption within the republic’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.
‘[The department] covers up everything! That is: alcohol, gambling, prostitution, and counterfeiting.’
The source said that Romashkin and Rybnikov ‘replaced 90% of the personnel of the Internal Security Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’, appointing friends, relatives, and acquaintances to key all posts.
‘In total, according to my information, Romashkin and Rybnikov brought 300–500 people from other regions to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kabardino-Balkaria’, the source said.