Moscow police bugged phones for money

Authorities have detained a senior Moscow police officer suspected of bugging businessmen's phones in return for payment from their rivals, a newspaper reported Friday.

The business daily Kommersant said that investigators from the Russian Interior Ministry's internal security division had arrested Mikhail Yanykin, a senior officer at the Moscow criminal police department in charge of wiretapping and shadowing operations.

The newspaper said that Yanykin had turned bugging phones into a regular business.

Russian law requires a court sanction for police eavesdropping on phone conversations. Yanykin and his accomplices bypassed this requirement by tacitly adding businessmen's names to official requests for wiretapping as part of ongoing criminal investigations, the paper said.

Kommersant said that a deputy head of the Moscow criminal police was also temporarily relieved of his duties as part of the probe.

Spokesmen for the Interior Ministry and the Moscow police refused to comment on the report.

Corruption has permeated the Russian police and other official structures despite repeated pledges by President Vladimir Putin's government to combat graft. Databases of bank accounts, tax payments and other confidential information is widely available in Russia, apparently leaked by officials.