Investigators have opened a criminal case against the mayor of Yaroslavl, Yevgeny Urlashov, and three of his subordinates on suspicion of extortion.
"According to investigation data, in the period from December 2012 to July 2, 2013, the mayor of the city of Yaroslavl and his subordinates extorted from the director of a commercial company a bribe worth 14 million rubles ($422,600) from a sum transferred to the company for work it completed," the regional investigative department said Wednesday.
Urlashov left the ruling United Russia party in 2011 and become a candidate for the opposition, before achieving a landslide victory in the city's April 2012 mayoral elections.
A member of billionaire and politician Mikhail Prokhorov's Civic Platform party, he planned to head the party's list at the Sept. 8, 2013 elections to the regional parliament.
Earlier on Wednesday, police said the official had been detained. Urlashov's spokeswoman Svetlana Yefimova told Gazeta.ru that officers from the Interior Ministry's economic security department stopped the mayor's car early on Wednesday.
"These were masked people in camouflage and plain clothes," Yefimova said, adding that she was inside the mayor's car at the time. "Without explanations, they pushed him into their car and took him away."
An Investigative Committee spokeswoman said searches were underway in the houses of Urlashov and his subordinates.