Russian prison official accused of stealing road

Alexander Protopopov allegedly dismantled and carted off the path from a motorway

A road sign in Moscow, Russia. File  photograph: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

A road sign in Moscow, Russia. File photograph: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg


Corruption in Russia sometimes amounts to highway robbery, literally.

A senior prison official has been accused of stealing the path from a 48km stretch of public motorway in the Komi Republic, the Kommersant daily reported on its website on Wednesday.

The report said that Alexander Protopopov, the acting deputy chief of the federal prison service, had supervised a scheme that involved dismantling the road and carting off more than 7,000 huge slabs of reinforced concrete over the course of more than a year, starting in 2014.

The slabs were delivered to a company that then sold them, the report said.

Protopopov, whose recent public tasks included inspecting the prisons in Crimea after the peninsula was annexed from Ukraine in March 2014, headed the prison service in the Komi region from 2010 until he was promoted last year.

He was arrested in Moscow, and faces up to 10-years in prison if he is convicted of using his official position to steal state property.

While he was in Komi, Protopopov won a medal for fomenting “spiritual unity”, the Kommersant report said, without specifying whether the unity was with the crews doing the illicit road work.

Criminal charges

Some others involved in the scheme also face criminal charges.

A judge could decide as early as Thursday whether to hold Protopopov in jail pending trial, the report said.

There is no word yet on whether prosecutors were willing to pave the way for his release on bail.

New York Times service