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Former Russian government minister is detained in embezzlement case

The Federal Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case against Mikhail Abyzov, Russia's former Open Government Affairs minister, on suspicion of embezzling 4 billion rubles ($62.2 million). According to the magazine RBC, Federal Security Service agents detained Abyzov on Tuesday.

Investigators say Abyzov and five accomplices stole the money from energy companies in the Novosibirsk region and hid the loot abroad. Officials are formally investigating them for fraud and the creation of an organized criminal group.

Abyzov has held several executive positions at major energy firms since the mid-1990s, eventually joining the board of directors at the electric power holding company RAO UES. He was the first and only Open Government Affairs minister, serving in the role from 2012 to 2018. The office was abolished when President Putin formed his current government cabinet.

In March 2017, anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny reported that Abyzov owns a mansion in Italy worth 750 million rubles ($11.7 million). According to Navalny, Abyzov leveraged his energy connections in Novosibirsk to amass his wealth.