July 8 - A former Sochi judge has been accused of earning at least 370 million rubles (£7.7 mllion/$11.8 million) through a series of shady deals for land, including plots for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Dmitry Novikov, who served as a judge from 2002 to 2008, when he resigned voluntarily, faces charges of abuse of office after the judges' qualification board for the Krasnodar region gave permission for the Investigative Committee to open a criminal case.

Former and acting judges are immune from prosecution unless a judges' qualification board, which appoints and fires judges, rules otherwise.

Investigators accuse Novikov, who was detained in April, of fixing a ruling in a 2002 civil case to obtain a 4,000-square-metre land plot in Krasnaya Polyana worth 100 million rubles (£2.1 million/$3.1 million).

Krasnaya Polyana is due host the snow events for the Olympic Games.

Another case, opened by the regional branch of the Federal Security Service in February, accuses Novikov of illegally obtaining 17 land plots in downtown Sochi estimated to be worth at least 270 million rubles (£5.7 million/$8.7 million).

Novikov, who owns several luxury cars, including a Bentley, did not review a single case between 2006 and 2008, when he quit.

Lawyer Igor Trunov, who represents Novikov, said his client was being punished for accusing regional judges of corruption.