Russian-Jewish billionaire and communal funder arrested for alleged bribes

Boris Spiegel speaks during a meeting of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation in Yaroslavl, Russia on Nov. 28, 2011. (Public Chamber of the Yaroslavl Region)

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Boris Spiegel, a Russian-Jewish pharmaceuticals mogul, has been arrested in Moscow in connection with a corruption investigation.

Spiegel, who has donated substantial time and effort to various Jewish community projects and the World Without Nazism anti-racism organization that he founded, was charged with offering a local politician the equivalent of about $400,000 in bribes, RIA Novosti reported Monday.

Spiegel’s wife, Yevgenia, was also arrested along with several other individuals in connection with the corruption investigation that began with an inspection into the affairs of Ivan Belozertsev, the governor of the Penza region, situated about 300 miles southeast of Moscow.

All the suspects have denied the actions.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused of weaponizing the judiciary to neutralize critics. Spiegel, however, has not clashed with Putin and is considered friendly to the president.

The arrests come six months before the September Russian legislative election, which Putin’s critics are trying to turn into a referendum on his authoritarianism and alleged corruption by his cronies.

Earlier this year, many Russians were outraged at reports that Putin owns a vast Black Sea resort featuring a casino, an ice rink and a vineyard. Alexey Navalny, a rival of Putin who is currently in jail for what many believe are trumped up charges, claimed Putin was the property’s owner in a video that went viral. But Arkady Rotenberg, a Jewish gas magnate, said he owned the resort.