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Top Aide to Brezhnev Got Costly Gifts, Court Told

September 06, 1988|Associated Press

MOSCOW — The government charged today that cash, jewelry, fine wines and fruits were given to the nation's former chief law enforcement officer by defendants in the influence-peddling trial of Leonid I. Brezhnev's son-in-law.

As the trial before a three-member military tribunal entered its second day, prosecutors alleged that defendants gave former Interior Minister Nikolai Shchelokov, then the Soviet Union's top police officer and a protege of Brezhnev, gifts ranging from neckties to three pearls valued at $5,300 each.

The indictment, which is being read in court, said Shchelokov was particular about the gifts he accepted and often refused things that didn't please him.

The charges provided the most detailed account yet of official corruption at the top levels of the Brezhnev regime.

Recent newspaper reports say Shchelokov took $1.1 million in state funds, gave foreign luxury cars to his children and bought furs and crystal chandeliers for himself and his family.

He was fired by Brezhnev's successor, Yuri V. Andropov, and died in December, 1984, at 73. Shchelokov and his wife are said to have committed suicide, and the indictment read today confirmed that the former interior minister did indeed kill himself.

The court documents said boxes of money were left on Shchelokov's desk and that one of the nine defendants gave him 105,000 rubles ($170,000).

"He wanted good, dry wines," the indictment said, adding that the defendants obliged him. Six times a year, shipments from the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan would arrive at a Moscow airport and be taken to Shchelokov's country home outside the capital.

The indictment said the shipments contained cognac, tomatoes, melons, apricots and other fruits unobtainable in Moscow most of the year.

Brezhnev's son-in-law, Yuri Churbanov, 51, is the central figure among the nine defendants. Churbanov was Shchelokov's deputy and could face the death penalty if convicted on charges that he accepted more than $1 million in cash bribes and gifts.

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