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Former Moscow Region Finance Minister seeks bail

August 20, 2013, 17:49 UTC+3

Alexei Kuznetsov asked the French authorities to release him from custody while his extradition case would be reviewed

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Screenshot from Rossia 24 TV Channel

Screenshot from Rossia 24 TV Channel

PARIS, August 20 (Itar-Tass) - The former Finance Minister of the Moscow region, Alexei Kuznetsov, asked the French authorities to release him from custody for the time of review of his extradition case, an official at the court of Aix-en-Provence told Itar-Tass. Kuznetsov is currently keep in the pre-trial detention center of this town.

"Mr Kuznetsov's request will be considered before the end of this month," the source said. He made it clear that "to secure bail for their client, Kuznetsov's lawyers would have to present very serious guarantees that the suspect will not escape."

Kuznetsov was detained by Toulon police near the Saint-Tropez resort in southern France on July 5 at the request by Russian law-enforcers and placed under pre-extradition arrest. The former Russian official, wanted by Interpol since November 2012, is suspected of causing 3.5-billion rouble damage to the regional budget.

Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev told reporters on Tuesday Russia had officially asked France to extradite Kuznetsov.

"All the documents were received within the established timeframe," an official at the Aix-en-Provence court said. The review of the extradition case is due in the second half of September but the procedure will take at least six months. "Even if the court rules on extradition, Kuznetsov has the right to challenge this decision," experts said.

Kuznetsov had been Finance Minister of the Moscow region until 2008. He resigned of his own accord. The then regional governor Boris Gromov explained that Kuznetsov had stepped down because of his dual citizenship.

Toulon police confirmed that they had seized from Kuznetsov several passports during his detention.

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