MOSCOW, February 27 (RAPSI) – Former mayor of Vladivostok Igor Pushkarev has pleaded not guilty in a criminal case over large-scale bribery and abuse of office, RAPSI correspondent reports from the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow.

“I don’t understand the charges,” Pushkarev said after a prosecutor read out the indictment.

On Tuesday, the court opened hearings in the criminal case against the former mayor. Pushkarev is charged with commercial bribery, abuse of office by a person who holds public office in Russia and taking bribes on a large scale. His brother Andrey Pushkarev, head of “Vostokcement” group, and Andrey Lushnikov , head of “Roads of Vladivostok” company, are also defendants in the case.

According to investigators, between 2009 and 2016, Pushkarev acting as a mayor of Vladivostok “from mercenary or other personal motives” organized the acquisition by “Roads of Vladivostok” of a large volume of construction materials from “Vostokcement” controlled by his relatives. Construction materials were allegedly purchased only from these companies and at inflated prices.

Pushkarev allegedly received upwards of 75 million rubles ($1.3 million at the current exchange rate) in money, goods and services from Andrey Pushkarev. Lushnikov was allegedly aware of the brothers’ plans and aided them in exchange for financial rewards.

In total, Vostokcement received over 1.2 billion rubles (about $21.4 million) for the delivered construction materials while Pushkarev’s relatives received dividends in the amount of more than 500 million rubles ($8.5 million), according to the Investigative Committee.

Pushkarev has been removed from his post by court order. Later, he filed in resignation.