July 28 - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (pictured) has ordered Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to investigate possible Kremlin corruption linked to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Medvedev has told told Chaika to investigate corruption allegations against Kremlin official Vladimir Leshchevsky at the request of businessman Valery Morozov, who has accused Leshchevsky of extorting bribes in connection with construction for the Winter Olympics.

Moskonversprom chairman Morozov told Russian media last month that he had paid 180 million rubles (£3.6 million/$5.7 million) in kickbacks to Leshchevsky, a deputy head of construction in the Office of Presidential Affairs, for winning a tender to reconstruct the Primorye complex at a sanatorium called Sochi and to draft a reconstruction plan for the Dagomys sanatorium.

Both sanatoriums are affiliated with the Office of Presidential Affairs.

Leshchevsky has called the accusations unfounded and said Morozov was looking to avoid repercussions for violating the terms of his contract.

A spokesman for the Prosecutor General's Office said that there would be no comment on Medvedev's order "until there are results" in the check into Leshchevsky's activities.

Leshchevsky was on holiday and unavailable for comment, said Viktor Khrekov, a spokesman for the Office of Presidential Affairs.

Morozov applauded Medvedev's order and said it "may become the decisive moment" in his firm's battle with Kremlin officials.

"This has to nudge the consciences of the officials who are torturing us," Morozov said.

In ordering the investigation, Medvedev is seeking to fulfill a promise made soon after he assumed office "to reinforce the role of the media in the fight against corruption," said Kirill Kabanov, head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, a non-Governmental organisation.

Moskonversprom first complained about Leshchevsky in June 2009 to the Interior Ministry's economic crimes department, which recorded Leshchevsky receiving a bribe from the firm and handed the recording over to the Investigative Committee, which said it saw no crime in Leshchevsky's actions,

In March, construction workers at a Moskonversprom project in Sochi claimed that they had not been paid in months and were forced to pawn their belongings for food.

Morozov denied the allegations at the time, saying the strikers were part of a campaign to discredit his firm for the sake of local construction companies.

Moskonversprom had also been building housing for Sochi residents relocated because of the construction for the Olympics, before state corporation Olimpstroi said it broke off the contract with the firm in early June over Moskonversprom's "failure to abide by the contract terms, such as labour conditions."

Further complicating matters, two unidentified Sochi police officers on Monday allegedly beat up one of Moskonversprom's directors, Andrei Shurpyak, and forced him to sign documents that said a developer, Sochiremstroi, had carried out construction on a residential complex for displaced Sochi residents, while the work in question had not been done, Morozov said in an e-mailed statement.

Morozov said the incident was part of an attempt by the police to open a criminal case against Moskonversprom on orders from unidentified senior officials.

A Sochi police spokesman said he could not confirm Morozov's account.

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