The government charged Tuesday that cash, jewelry, wines and fruits were given to the nation's former chief law enforcement officer by defendants in the influence-peddling trial of Leonid Brezhnev's son-in-law, Yuri Churbanov.
As the trial before a three-member military tribunal entered its second day, prosecutors alleged 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 picky about the gifts he accepted and often refused things that didn't suit 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 Andropov, and died in December 1984 at age 73. Shchelokov and his wife are said to have committed suicide, and the indictment read Tuesday confirmed the former interior minister did indeed kill himself.
The court documents said boxes of money were left on Shchele-kov'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 Shchelekov's country home outside the capital.
The indictment said the shipments contained cognac, tomatoes as well as melons, apricots and other fruits unobtainable in Moscow most of the year.
When he received gifts he liked, the account said, the interior minister would politely accept them by saying, "I thank you."
Sometimes, however, he refused to take things he didn't want.