MOSCOW, November 14 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow City’s former mayor Yuri Luzhkov plans reporting to the investigators for a session of questioning, his lawyer Alexei Melnikov said.
“I confirm Yuri Mikhailovich’s /second word in the name being a Russian patronymic – Itar-Tass/ unchanged plans to report to the Investigations Department tomorrow for an interview with the investigator,” Melnikov said.
“The investigators have questions to him as an eyewitness,” he said, adding that the former mayor is expected to come to the investigator’s office at around 10:00 hours November 15.
One of the issues that have aroused the investigation’s interest is the buyout of an extra issue of shares of the Bank of Moscow by the city government in 2009.
Later on, the bank spent the bulk of the 13 billion rubles /USD 1=USD 32.0/ it had received from the government to grant a loan to the closed joint-stock company Premier Estate.
Under the initial plan, Luzhkov was to be questioned October 28 but he said in an official letter to the investigator that he could not report on that day, as he was staying outside Russia.
He informed the Investigations Department, however, of his readiness to face the interviewers anytime upon return to Russia from November 11 through to November 22.
The Interior Ministry warned Luzhkov earlier that “measures envisioned by the Code of Practice may be taken against a person involved in a court case, should he or she shirk participation in investigative actions.”
Luzhkov has said on several occasions he perceives a political underpinning in this case.
Sergei Naryshkin, the chief of the Presidential Administration Staff said in an explanation for the decision to dismiss Luzhkov from the mayoral position that there had been reasons behind President Dmitry Medvedev’s move.
“First, there was an extremely inefficient governing of the city and, second, he and the people around him perpetrated corruption at a level defying belief,” Naryshkin said.
Luzhkov held the mayor’s office for eighteen years. President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on an early termination of Luzhkov’s powers September 28, 2010.
The document said: “Yuri Mikhailovich Luzhkov shall be relieved of duties of Moscow City Mayor due to a loss of trust with the President of Russia.”
The incumbent mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, was appointed in October 2010. Prior to it he had had the post of chief of administrative staff of Russia’s Prime Minister.
Investigators have more than once issued summons to Luzhkov’s wife, Yelena Baturina, to appear in the investigations office as an eyewitness. She was supposed to be there February 25, March 4 and April 8 but she never did owing to the fact of her long-term stay abroad.
“In case of Baturina’s further failures to report to investigators, the pretrial agencies will be compelled to take coercive steps, including the ones effectuated with the assistance of Interpol,” an official at the Investigations Department said earlier, adding that requests for assistance might be sent to the law enforcement bodies in Britain and Austria.
In 2009, more than 12 billion rubles, which the Premier Estate company had borrowed from the Bank of Moscow, were remitted to the company INTEKO controlled by Baturina. The investigation believes the monies were drawn from the bank on the basis of unreliable data on the subject of pledge and its value.
The subject was a plot of 58 hectares of land assigned to the Ramenskoye Territorial Directorate and co-owned by three executives of INTEKO. Baturina had 90% in it.
INTEKO has a different owner now, while Yelena Baturina remains abroad.
A criminal case was instituted at the end of May against Andrei Borodin, the former President of the Bank of Moscow, and Dmitry Akulinin, the former First Vice President of the Bank. Both men are charged with a fraud and have been placed on the international wanted list.