MOSCOW -- Corrupt officials, including the son-in-law of Leonid Brezhnev, stole at least $6.5 billion from the Uzbekistan Republic in a scandal involving extortion and bribery, Pravda said yesterday.
The article in the official Communist Party newspaper and the recent renaming of places that carried Brezhnev's name were seen as signs that Mikhail Gorbachev's Kremlin leadership will not tolerate the corruption, stagnation and bureaucracy it associates with the late leader. "In Uzbekistan such crimes as bribery, falsifying reports and theft became normal," Pravda quoted the investigators as saying.
Pravda said the money was stolen while officials in the Central Asian republic were being given national recognition for overfulfilling their quotas for cotton production, based on falsified reports. The false reports finally were discovered because the republic continually lagged in production of fabric, even though the reports indicated it was producing record amounts of raw cotton.
The newspaper said officials arrested in the case included the premier and a deputy president of the republic and Communist Party officials at the republic and local levels. It also said the Soviet Union's first deputy interior minister was arrested, a reference to Brezhnev's son-in-law, Yuri Churbanov.