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MOSCOW, December 20 (Itar-Tass) — Investigators questioned former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov again within the case over the Bank of Moscow theft, the press service of the Interior Ministry’s investigation department told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
"Luzhkov was questioned again by investigators within the framework of the probe into the criminal case over thefts at the Bank of Moscow," a press service representative said.
He noted that it was the third questioning of Luzhkov in the case.
In 2009, more than 12 billion roubles were transferred to the accounts of the INTEKO company. The money came as a loan to the Premier Estate company. The investigators believe "the loan was taken on the basis of unauthentic information about the subject and cost of the collateral - a 58-hectare land plot "Ramenskoye Territorial Directorate," belonging to three INTEKO employees, including Baturina, who had a 90-percent stake.
INTEKO has changed hands by now. Baturina has been staying abroad.
In late 2010, a criminal case was opened against former Bank of Moscow president Andrei Borodin and his former first deputy Dmitry Akulinin. They were accused of fraud and Interpol issued notices for their arrest.
Luzhkov said he saw "politics" behind the case. But chief of the Kremlin staff Sergei Naryshkin said there were two reasons behind the president's decision to dismiss Luzhkov: "firstly, it's extremely ineffective city management, and, secondly, runaway corruption under Luzhkov and his associates."
Luzhkov was Moscow mayor for 18 years. On September 28, 2010, President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on early termination of his powers. The document said the mayor had been dismissed because of "the loss of trust."
The investigation department has repeatedly summoned Luzhkov's wife Yelena Baturina as a witness. It summoned her to testify in the case on February 25, March 4 and April 8, but she never turned up as she was abroad.
"In case of Baturina's further non-appearance for questioning, preliminary investigation bodies will take complete measures including Interpol opportunities," an official at the investigation department warned, adding that the department might send inquiries to the British and Austrian authorities.
The former Moscow mayor stipulated the return of his wife to Moscow on certain guarantees.
"Yelena /Baturina/ has never refused to come over for questioning; the most important thing for her, and even more to me is that she is able to travel back to the country where she is staying and be together with the children there," Luzhkov said in an in interview to the Dozhd /Rain/ channel earlier.
He insists on immunity for Baturina if she comes over for testimony, to enable her to return to the country of stay. The summon issued to her thus far did not stipulate such immunity.
If Baturina is given a proper summon, she gets immunity for return journey, Luzhkov said.