Russia has detained a general who heads a branch of Russia’s federal guard service after he allegedly took a large bribe, Interfax news agency reported Friday.
The Federal Guard Service (FSO) is Moscow’s version of the US Secret Service and is responsible for ensuring the personal security of President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s other top leaders.
Gennady Lopyrev, who headed the FSO’s branch in the tense North Caucasus region, has been detained and is under investigation, an FSO spokesman told Interfax.
A source familiar with the situation told the agency that Lopyrev was “caught red-handed while receiving a bribe”.
A search found he was carrying “a large sum of money” of more than 1 billion rubles ($15.5 million), the source added.
The Investigative Committee which probes major crimes, said in a statement that Lopyrev had been detained for allegedly receiving bribes from a number of companies for offering them his protection when they applied for and carried out state construction contracts.
It said he could face up to 15 years in prison.
Lopyrev’s lawyer Ruslan Zakalyuzhny told Interfax that the charge against his client was “linked to his professional activity”.
Under questioning, Lopyrev did not admit any guilt, Zakaluzhny said, adding that he would request house arrest.
Russia in recent years has vowed to cut down on high-level official corruption although few have served significant jail terms.
Early this month the FSB security service dramatically detained economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev in the early hours for allegedly taking a bribe of $2 million. He has since been sacked as minister as well as being charged and placed under house arrest.