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Senator Associated With Graft Steps Down

Andrei Vavilov, a scandal-prone former deputy finance minister, will step down as a Federation Council senator on Wednesday for another job, Interfax reported.

Senator Nikolai Tulayev, who heads the chamber's Rules Committee, said the Federation Council would hold a formal vote Wednesday to excuse Vavilov from the post as a senator for the Penza region.

Tulayev did not elaborate on where Vavilov was planning to work after the resignation, Interfax said. He has held the post since 2002.

Vavilov, whose name has surfaced in numerous high-profile graft cases, had been investigated on suspicion of embezzling $231 million in 1997 during a sale of MiG fighter jets to India.

Investigators closed the case in 2008 because the 10-year statute of limitations expired.

Senators are generally immune from prosecution while in office, but members can vote to lift this immunity.

Vavilov's name surfaced again recently after a high-profile legal dispute over an elite New York penthouse he purchased for $53.5 million. In February 2009, he reached a settlement with the developer, whom he accused of exaggerating the "attic-like" property.

Separately, the Federation Council is going to approve a senator for Karelia, Davletkhan Alikhanov, who will represent the northwestern republic's executive branch, Tulayev was quoted as saying.

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