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Court Sanctions Arrest of Top Military Doctor

A Moscow military court has sanctioned the arrest of the country's chief military doctor on corruption charges, as well as a subordinate who fought riot police officers bare-handed during his arrest.

Alexander Belevitin and his deputy Alexei Nikitin will remain in pretrial detention until at least August while investigators examine the case against them, Interfax reported Friday. A lawyer for Belevitin said his client, who was refused bail of 2 million rubles ($72,000), will appeal.

Belevitin was apprehended in Nikitin's apartment in central Moscow last week and refused to open the door at first, prompting police to bring out a ramming pole, Kommersant said. Nikitin fought officers sent to detain him with his hands but was overcome.

Belevitin and Nikitin are accused of accepting a kickback of 120,000 euros ($175,000) in exchange for handing a 2009 contract for the purchase of tomography equipment for a military hospital to a minor medical equipment maker, Dina International, Kommersant said, adding that the military had paid 120 million rubles ($4.3 million) for equipment that could have been acquired at half the price.

Dina International has not commented on the arrest, but its head, Alexei Vilken (earlier identified as Roman Vilkin), who was deputy health minister in the mid-1990s, was himself arrested last year for alleged involvement in a bribery scheme masterminded by former Kremlin official Andrei Voronin, Interfax said, citing an unspecified official in the military court.

Voronin demanded $1 million from Toshiba's medical equipment division, threatening otherwise to put it on a blacklist for state tenders. He was convicted in April but got off with a mild three-year sentence because he had cooperated with investigators, Kommersant said.

This prompted Vilken, who was accused of being the middleman in the Toshiba scheme, to also identify to investigators those whom he suspected were involved in similar schemes, the newspaper said.

According to wiretapped phone conversations, Belevitin and Nikitin discussed killing Vilken in pretrial detention during a medical check to ensure his silence, Rapsi said earlier. But the two were only charged with large-scale corruption last week, punishable with up to 10 years in prison.

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