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Russia Drops Second Charge Against Deputy Minister

Sergei Storchak in July 2006
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's federal Investigative Committee has charged Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak with attempted fraud but dropped a second accusation of abuse of office.

Storchak, a close ally of Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin, was arrested in November 2007, accused of attempting to embezzle $43 million in a complex deal with foreign debts owed to Russia. The abuse-of-office charge was added last year.

Storchak denies the charges, which many analysts in Moscow have described as politically motivated and part of a power struggle within the Russian government.

He spent nearly a year in jail before being released last October pending trial. He is officially on leave from work, but this week attended a Finance Ministry conference.