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Investigator is not to change Baturina's witness status

February 01, 2012, 18:06 UTC+3

Baturina has nothing to fear in the Bank of Moscow case

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MOSCOW, February 1 (Itar-Tass) — The lawyer of the former Moscow mayor's wife said her status of a witness was secure in the Bank of Moscow funds theft case. "She has nothing to fear, because there is not a single reason to hold her responsible as a suspect or defendant," lawyer Alexander Asnis told Echo Moscow live radio on Wednesday.

He noted that there is not a single word in the case - which has been under investigation for almost 12 months - that Baturina or her husband Yuri Luzhkov are accomplices to the crime.

"If the investigator had reasons, he would have long changed Baturina's status, by charging her in absentia and initiating extradition," Asnis said.

Baturina was unable to come to Russia because of her children who are staying abroad as well.

Answering the presenter's question whether Baturina, upon her arrival in Moscow, might be charged with some other offense, the lawyer stressed that he "knows nothing about other cases where Baturina could be a witness or a suspect."

On Tuesday, the Interior Ministry's investigation department said it would place an inquiry with the Austrian authorities to summon Yelena Baturina for questioning as a witness within the criminal case over Bank of Moscow theft.

Commenting on these reports, Alexander Asnis underlined that the Austrian authorities - when they receive the document form Russia - only have to hand it to Baturina, as no further actions in this case are within their competence.

After Baturina receives the notice, she or her agent will contact the investigator to agree on the venue and time of questioning.

An Interior Ministry source said investigators might select several ways to conduct the questioning.

"The simplest way is to equest to pass a summon for questioning to Baturina, which is likely to be done. Also, Russian investigators might travel to Austria themselves, to carry out an investigation or may forward an international inquiry to conduct investigations with a list of questions to which they wish to have answers," the source said.

Former Bank of Moscow president Andrei Borodin and his deputy Dmitry Akulinin are suspects in the Bank of Moscow theft case. The investigators said they had stolen more than 12.5 billion roubles, with mediation of president the Kuznetsky Most Development private company Boris Shemyakin and director general of Premier Estate Svetlana Timonina. The money ended up on the account of the INTEKO company controlled by Baturina. Baturina's husband, ex-Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, has already been questioned several times within the case.

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