Yekaterinburg police on Thursday raided the residences of three top municipal officials suspected of corruption, an action the city's new mayor-elect Yevgeny Roizman said could be politically motivated.
The officials were implicated by two men who were arrested for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to defraud businessmen by offering them city property that they fraudulently claimed had been privatized, Interfax reported.
A court granted police search warrants for the three officials' residences after hearing the suspects' testimony and other incriminating evidence. Officers from the organized crime unit began searching the three residences simultaneously on Thursday morning with the assistance of rapid-response forces.
A police spokesman named two of the suspects as Vladimir Tungusov, deputy head of the Yekaterinburg administration, and Vadim Dudarenko, deputy head of the city administration and head of the municipal property management department. The third suspect was not named.
Opposition politician Roizman, who won Yekaterinburg's mayoral vote on Sunday and was officially registered as mayor-elect by the city's elections committee on Thursday, said he thought the searches could be a means of putting pressure on the officials.
"In the Sverdlovsk region of late, the opening of criminal cases on the basis false information has become a tactic for applying political pressure. All sorts of criminal cases are being opened to resolve political and economic issues," Roizman told journalists on Thursday, Interfax reported.
During the mayoral campaign in Yekaterinburg, local law enforcement officials investigated allegations that Roizman had various criminal ties, which the politician denied. Roizman called the inquiries part of a smear campaign against him.