A Russian court has refused to call a top oil company chief to testify in a bribery trial against former Russian Economy Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev.
Ulyukayev faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of accepting $2 million in cash from Igor Sechin, chief executive of Rosneft and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.
Ulyukayev denies any wrongdoing.
Judges at Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky district court on November 28 denied a defense request to have Sechin testify as the case ended the testimony phase.
Sechin has been summoned to testify four times in recent weeks but has declined to show up, saying he is too busy. He made clear earlier this month that he would not be available to testify before the end of the year.
The trial is set to resume December 4, when closing arguments are due to begin.
Prosecutors said the bribe was given last year on November 14 in exchange for Ulyukayev approving the sale of a state-controlled oil company Bashneft to Rosneft.
Police detained Ulyukayev inside Rosneft headquarters shortly after Sechin handed him the cash inside a lockable brown bag, prosecutors said.The next day Putin fired Ulyukayev.
Ulyukayev, speaking to the court on November 27, said he had believed the package contained a gift but that a trap had been set for him.
Based on reporting by Interfax, TASS, and Reuters