One of Moscow's corrupt crime-fighting officials was brought down by a bug hidden in a present from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), thanking him for his tireless anti-corruption work, the Kommersant newspaper has reported.
Russian security agents attached a small microphone to a samovar — a traditional Russian water heater — decorated with the insignia of the intelligence services, the news outlet claimed.
Mikhail Maksimenko, the head of the Moscow Investigative Committee's Internal Security Department, had received the gift from the FSB before being suspected of corruption.
The metal samovar included an engraving congratulating him on “fighting corruption in law enforcement bodies,” Kommersant reported.
Agents reportedly bugged Maksimenko's apartment and office while the official had a brief stay in hospital. The move was part of an anti-corruption campaign which saw agents record Maksimenko's phone calls and messages, and even film meetings using airborne drones.
Maksimenko is accused of taking a bribe worth no less than $500,000 from one of Russia’s most notorious mafia bosses. The Georgian crime-lord, known as Shakro Molodoi, gave officials the money to soften the sentences of gang members involved in a shootout at Moscow's Elements restaurant in December 2015.
The official's lawyers maintain that the FSB carried out the investigation against Maksimenko illegally.
Deputy Head of the Moscow Investigative Committee Denis Nikandrov, and Maksimenko's deputy Alexander Lamonov were also arrested.
Moscow City Court has remanded all three in custody until Dec. 19.