Former Russian commander charged with extortion

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 29, 2012 03:50 hrs

Moscow, Nov 28 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A former commander of a Russian military aerobatics team has been charged with bribery and extortion, investigators said Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Valery Morozov was the commander of the Strizhi (Swifts) team, which has been performing since May 1991, when it first flew precise formation aerobatics in their MiG−29 jets.

"He (Morozov) is now a defendant in a criminal case that involves extorting money from a subordinate," said Col. Gen. Alexander Sorochkin, head of the Main Military Investigative Directorate.

Investigators said Morozov has been receiving 5,000 rubles ($160) monthly for allowing a subordinate to set up a "flexible" work schedule or to skip duty altogether. They claim to have undeniable proof of his guilt.

"Without absolute proof, we would have never opened a criminal case or charged him with this crime," Sorochkin said.

The Russian defence ministry discharged Morozov in October for "breach of contract", without waiting for the results of the investigation. The colonel has appealed his discharge in court.

−−IANS/RIA Novosti


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