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Moscow court extends custody term for Astrakhan’s ex-mayor

January 10, 2014, 18:12 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, January 10. /ITAR-TASS/. A Moscow court extended on Friday a custody term for the ex-mayor of Russia’s southern city of Astrakhan, Mikhail Stolyarov, who is accused of extorting a 10 million rubles (over $300,000) bribe.

The Basmanny Court of Moscow ruled that Stolyarov, detained in Astrakhan last November, would remain in custody until March 13, 2014.

According to investigators, who requested the court to extend the term, Stolyarov cannot be released as he has opportunities to exert pressure on witnesses or somehow else obstruct the investigation into his case.

Stolyarov’s lawyers told journalists after the court’s session that they would file an appeal with the Moscow City Court.

During the session, his lawyers asked the court to either release their client on a condition not to leave the country or place him under a house arrest. They also said Stolyarov is not healthy and requires a systematic medical assistance, which cannot be provided at the pre-trial detention ward.

According to investigators, last October an Astrakhan businessman turned to ex-mayor Stolyarov asking to allocate him 3,000 square meters (32,300 sq. ft.) of municipal land for the construction of an administrative building.

Investigators allege that Stolyarov agreed and demanded in return that the businessman pay him 10 million rubles in cash and grant him a 25-percent stake in the authorized capital of the mooted enterprise.

Police detained the former mayor on November 13, 2013, at an Astrakhan restaurant as he was handed the requested cash. Stolyarov denies his guilt, but expressed willingness to cooperate with the investigation.

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