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Disgraced ex-mayor interrogated about embezzlement in the Bank of Moscow

November 16, 2011, 12:44 UTC+3

Luzhkov left the Investigative Committee with a summons for his spouse Elena Baturina

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Moscow’s former Mayor Yuri Luzhkov was interrogated on Tuesday as a witness about embezzlement in 2010 of 12.76 billion of budget roubles from the Bank of Moscow. Luzhkov left the Investigative Committee with a summons for his spouse Elena Baturina. Investigators hope to interrogate her and to check the information, which the former mayor provided over the interrogation.

Yuri Luzhkov is a witness in the case about embezzlement in the Bank of Moscow, where suspects are former managers of the bank, who manipulated with loans, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. It is significant that the investigation believes that the smartly organised deals’ beneficiaries were structures, owned at that time by the former mayor’s wife Elena Baturina. However, they both disclaimed several times all assumptions of the law enforcement authorities. Moreover, they accompanied disclaims with harsh political statements.

In the morning already, Yuri Luzhkov’s lawyer Genri Reznik reacted abruptly to the question whether his client’s status in the process may be changed, the newspaper continues. “If somebody is asking questions of the kind, they are idiotic. I am not answering them.” Nevertheless, after the four-hour interrogation, that was exactly the problem he was pressing. He claimed that Luzhkov’s status remained unchanged, he is only a witness.

The newspaper refers to Director General of the Centre for political information Alexei Mukhin, who said that the Kremlin should not be interested in the present ballyhoo around Yuri Luzhkov. He stressed that there does not exist a case of Luzhkov. All claims from law enforcement authorities are aimed mostly at various business structures of his wife. “Thus applying a political aspect to the Bank of Moscow’s case is a line, which Baturina has structured for protection of her own business.” However, he said, the power does not realise it quite well as yet. Thus it may act clumsily – for example, to try realistically to change Luzhkov’s status in the process.

Yuri Luzhkov’s meeting with the investigator lasted from 11:00 through to 15:25, and as it was over he left the Investigative Committee through an emergency exit as he did not wish to speak to reporters, the Moskovsky Komsomolets reports. Over the meeting, he managed to give replies to 12-15 questions. “I gave full exhaustive replies, which satisfied the investigation fully,” the former mayor said adding that he had promised not to reveal the interrogation’s contents.

The Investigative Committee reports that Luzhkov promised to hand in to Elena Baturina the summons about her invitations for interrogation as a witness in the same case, the Kommersant writes. Earlier, the investigation sent to Baturina several summons under the case, but she never showed up to interrogations. Luzhkov had told media that he forbade his wife to return from abroad to Russia.

The RBC daily quotes political scientist Stanislav Belkovsky as saying that everything will depend on Luzhkov’s further behaviour. “At some moment, he thought that the castling of Medvedev and Putin gives him a right to criticise Medvedev and United Russia as much as he wanted, but it was made clear to him that it was not so,” the expert says. “It is also true that Luzhkov lowered the tension of criticism, and on Tuesday even refused to meet with reporters, despite his ”propensity for speeches. This proves that he had chosen a scenario, where no major sanctions will be used against him.”

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