23 Nov 2009 17:23

Corrected: Over 500 members of Russia

(to change figure from "800" to "500" in headline of new item issued at 5.18 p.m.)

MOSCOW. Nov 23 (Interfax) - Criminal proceedings have been launched this year against 842 people enjoying special legal status, such as lawmakers, judges, lawyers and criminal justice officials, said the chief investigation arm of Russia's prosecution service.

The number includes 15 members of regional legislatures, more than 500 members and heads of lower-level local elected government bodies, 19 judges, 33 prosecutors and 86 lawyers, Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Prosecution Service Investigation Committee (SKP) said at a meeting of the Committee on Legal and Judicial Affairs of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament.

The SKP fully investigated more than 12,000 cases of corruption from January to October, he said.

Bastrykin said the SKP's chief department investigates particularly complicated cases and has finished probing the cases of 188 people, which "represent estimated potential damages of 900 billion rubles."

He also said 25 criminal investigators had come under prosecution and about 900 had been given disciplinary penalties since the SKP was set up a little more than two years ago.