The former police captain-turned-businessman at the center of a major Interior Ministry bribery scandal said he is innocent and has become an unwitting victim in a clan war within the police.
Maxim Kagansky, 30, has been charged with giving a $5 million bribe to senior investigator Nelli Dmitriyeva to drop a case against another businessman who was a witness in a separate embezzlement case.
The case against him and Dmitriyeva was fabricated to clear the way for the leader of an influential group within the Interior Ministry, Major General Denis Sugrobov, Kagansky
Described by the paper as an "influential smooth operator," Kagansky said the investigation was also part of an effort by corrupt police factions to take over his businesses, including a restaurant chain and gas stations in Volgograd.
He did not elaborate on how he and Dmitriyeva stood in Sugrobov's way, but accused police of planting evidence against him as part of the crackdown.
Sugrobov had not commented on the matter as of Thursday.
Kagansky's first public remarks on the case came as the Moscow City Court on Wednesday reaffirmed the decision of a lower court to order his arrest in absentia over the bribery charge.
Dmitriyeva — who gained notoriety for fruitlessly investigating the death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky while in custody — has also been charged and has challenged her arrest.
Earlier this week, the case spread to the deputy head of the ministry's economic crimes department, Andrei Khorev, after investigators discovered he had purchased a luxurious downtown apartment from Kagansky's wife for just $300.
Kagansky denied that the apartment had been sold to Khorev, who he said was a friend of his father, a retired police colonel.
He said it had instead been given as a gift to a military academy professor who helped his wife write her Ph.D. Calling his wife a "successful business lady" who made her money on stock market, Kagansky — who, according to Kommersant, himself owns a luxury apartment outside of Moscow — did not name the professor.