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Drugs found at Russian ex-minister’s apartment, investigators say

Mikhail Abyzov, who is facing bribery charges, had a narcotic substance in his apartment, but neither amount nor type of it was specified

MOSCOW, May 23. /TASS/. Drugs have been found in an apartment of former Russian minister Mikhail Abyzov who is facing bribery charges, an investigator told a Moscow district court on Thursday.

"A narcotic substance has been found in Abyzov’s apartment during the search. Investigators have already received chemical analysis data," the investigator said at the Moscow Bamanny District Court session. He did not say however whether Abyzov had been charged with drug possession. Neither did he tell about the amount of drugs and their type.

The court is considering the investigator’s motion demanding Abyzov’s detention term be extended till July 25.

Meanwhile, Abyzov’s attorney Alexander Asnis told the court that the drugs found at his apartment bore no fingerprints of his client. "Information about drugs found at Abyzov’s apartment is nothing but an attempt to cast a shadow on our client. His fingerprints were nor found on the drugs. Moreover, the search of his apartment was conducted in his absence. This find means nothing," he said, adding that no further charges had been brought against Abyzov.

According to another lawyer, separate administrative proceedings have been opened over the drug case. "This case has been referred to the police. Administrative proceedings have been initiated," said Ruslan Kozhura.

Mikhail Abyzov, who had been minister for open government affairs in 2012-2018, was detained on March 26 on charges of embezzling four billion rubles (about 61.82 million US dollars at the current exchange rate) and setting up a criminal group.

According to investigators, between April 2011 and November 2014, Abyzov as a beneficiary owner of a number of offshore commercial organizations set up a criminal network and steered its activities. Along with other individuals, he embezzled four billion rubles belonging to the Siberian Energy Company and Regional Power Networks, electricity generating and supplying companies in the Novosibirsk region. The Russian Investigative Committee says the stolen funds were entirely channeled abroad to an offshore company controlled by Abyzov.