Russia’s customs chief resigns over corruption allegations


MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev accepted Thursday the resignation of the head of the customs agency, several days after investigators searched his home and founds hundreds of thousand dollars stashed in shoe boxes.

Investigators earlier this week searched the house of Andrei Belyaninov as part of a probe into alcohol smuggling. Footage filmed inside his lavish home showed Belyaninov take out shoe boxes full of cash from a cupboard. Russian television quoted an unnamed source close to Belyaninov as saying that was his family’s savings.

The Russian government’s website published a decree signed by Medvedev saying Belyaninov had handed in his resignation and that it had been accepted. Belyaninov’s replacement is Vladimir Bulavin.

Belyaninov’s resignation came amid a flurry of dismissals and appointments by President Vladimir Putin in what appears to be a large-scale pre-election reshuffle. Russians elect a new parliament in September amid a growing, if not unusual, wave of popular discontent with local officials.

The Kremlin on Thursday published nearly 20 decrees signed by Putin, dismissing seven governors and top regional officials. At least six of them, including the new head of the customs agency, have been given other high-profile jobs in what appears to be the largest reshuffle of Russian officials in the past year.

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