MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian investigators detained the governor of the Kirov region on Friday, saying they had caught him accepting a bribe in a Moscow restaurant.


The governor, Nikita Belykh, has been critical of the Kremlin and was formerly leader of a party, the Union of Rightist Forces.


A spokesman for the Investigative Committee said in a statement Belykh was accused of taking a bribe of 400,000 euros ($444,240) and that a criminal case had been opened.


Vladimir Markin, the spokesman, denied there was any political subtext to Belykh's detention.


Investigators published a photograph on their website of Belykh sitting at a table on which piles of green 100-euro notes were laid out.


Russian news agencies reported that Belykh was taken by investigators for questioning. Belykh's press service was not immediately available for comment.

Three months from a parliamentary election and with an economic crisis raging, Kremlin critics say Russian officials are keen to keep opponents in check.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning, Dmitry Solovyov and Maria Tsvetkova; editing by Andrew Roche)