Former Russian government official Eduard Sandrukyan, also known as the "Alchemist," has been arrested on charges of trying take a bribe of nearly $1 million, according to reports from Russian media.
Sandrukyan's magical nickname was reportedly born out of his knack for "transforming diamonds into glass and heroin into detergent at the country’s customs" while the head of an investigative unit for transportation, explained Russia Today (RT).
A warrent for his arrest was issued Tuesday after the former colonel was nabbed allegedly taking a $900,000 bribe in cash at a Moscow mall on Sunday, Russian media cited an Investigative Committee statement as saying.
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The Moscow Times said the bribe is believed to have been part of an undercover business deal that could have involved payments of as much as $6 million. Sandrukyan now faces a criminal case on charges of fraud, said The Moscow Times.
Russia Today suggested the police investigation will not be limited to the bribery affair, but will also take on Sandrukyan's reportedly long and shady past. RT signaled out Sandrukyan's stint as head of Sochi's international airport, a convenient position for his allegedly "inventive" skills in transforming various kinds of goods -- presumably illegals ones -- into more respectable items.
But a report from Russia's PIK TV hinted that the political magicman had help, citing Russian sources as saying that he had hired "the services of 5 personal astrologers, brought especially from Armenia."
Corruption in Russia is widespread. A recent report from the non-governmental organization Freedom House cited a study that found corruption costs Russia between $300-$500 billion, the equivalent of as much as a third of its total economy.