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Moscow court denies $15-mln bail to ex-minister Abyzov

Abyzov attended the court session via a video linkup, once again saying he was innocent

MOSCOW, April 13. /TASS/. The Moscow City Court on Friday upheld a lower instance court ruling to deny bail to former Russian minister Mikhail Abyzov, charged with graft and organized crime, a TASS correspondent reported from the courtroom.

Earlier, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow refused to release the former minister on a 1-bln ruble (approximately $15.5 million at the current exchange rate) bail or place him under house arrest. Abyzov has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The judge ruled "to leave the lower instance court decision unchanged and dismiss the defense team’s appeal."

Abyzov attended the court session via a video linkup, once again saying he was innocent. His defense argued that the case "does not contain a single evidence of Abyzov’s involvement in the deeds he is being accused of."

Investigators and the prosecutor requested keeping Abyzov in pretrial custody, saying that the former high-ranking state official has accumulated vast resources, which he can use to obstruct justice if allowed to walk free. "Only Abyzov’s isolation from the society will ensure that the investigation is not obstructed," an Investigative Committee official said during the hearing.

Mikhail Abyzov, who had served as Minister for Open Government Affairs in 2012-2018, was detained on March 26 on charges of embezzling 4 billion rubles (about $62 mln 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 created and headed a criminal network. Together with others, he siphoned off 4 bln rubles ($62.3 mln) belonging to the Siberian Energy Company and Regional Power Networks, which produced and supplied electricity in the Novosibirsk Region and the Altai Region. The Investigative Committee believes that the stolen funds were entirely channeled abroad to an offshore company controlled by Abyzov.