MOSCOW (AP) — Russian prosecutors on Wednesday displayed $2 million in cash, which they claim was a bribe, at the trial of a former economic development minister accused of corruption.
Alexei Ulyukayev, the highest-ranking Russian official to have been arrested since 1993, was detained in November 2016 at the headquarters of Russia's largest oil producer, Rosneft, after a sting operation by Russia's main intelligence agency. Ulyukayev denies the charges and says Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin set him up.
The circumstances of the case have ignited speculation that Ulyukayev fell victim to a Kremlin power play by Sechin, a longtime associate of President Vladimir Putin.
Prosecutors at the hearing Wednesday brought in a cardboard box full of dollar banknotes.
Ulyukayev, who has remained under house arrest, refused to immediately answer the prosecutor when asked Wednesday if he had received the cash, adding that he would address the issue at a later stage of the trial.
He has said earlier during court proceedings that he fell victim to a "provocation" staged by Sechin and security officials colluding with him.
The former minister faces a fine or a prison sentence of up to 15 years if convicted.
Prosecutors also summoned Sechin to testify at the trial next Monday. If he shows up in court, it would mark the first time for Sechin, often described as Russia's second most powerful man, to testify.
Sechin has harshly criticized the prosecutors for making some of his conversations public during the trial, saying they contained sensitive information. Some observers have suggested that the ongoing trial may have failed to meet Sechin's expectations and dented his standing.