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Former top Russian official detained in Austria at Spain’s request

The court will shortly decide on his arrest

VIENNA, November 7./TASS/. The Austrian side has detained the former director of the Russian Ministry of Culture’s property management and investment policy department, Boris Mazo, at the request from Spain, the spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office in Vienna told TASS on Thursday.

"Yes, I can confirm that this person has been detained in Austria," Nina Bussek told TASS when asked to confirm information from a Russian law enforcement source that Mazo had been detained in Austria. The Vienna Prosecutor’s Office cannot disclose the name of the detained person because of the rules for protecting personal data.

According to her, after the former top official had been detained, the Prosecutor’s Office requested the court to consider placing him under arrest to then turn him over to Spain.

The court will shortly decide on his arrest, Spokesperson Nina Bussek said. "The Prosecutor’s Office has appealed to the court, requesting the arrest and then extradition to Spain. Now, the decision rests with the court," she said.

Earlier in the day, the Spanish National Police Corps said "a former top official from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation" had been detained in Vienna. Besides, his former wife and son, both Russian nationals, have been arrested in Spain.

"The key suspect was arrested in Austria by Austrian police officers in cooperation with the Spanish National Police Corps "in carrying out a European arrest warrant" issued by a court in Marbella," it said.

Criminal cases involving Ministry of Culture officials

In Russia, Mazo is a defendant in a criminal case in which former Deputy Minister of Culture Grigory Pirumov is charged with organizing a criminal community and fraud. Criminal proceedings were launched by the Russian Investigative Committee based on the FSB files over an embezzlement case of at least 450 million rubles ($7.067 million) earmarked for the construction of a group of buildings and depository of St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum.

Prior to that, Pirumov and Mazo were defendants in the so-called criminal case "of art conservators". On October 9, 2017, Pirumov was sentenced to 1.5 years in jail and a fine to the tune of 300,000 rubles, but he was freed right in the courtroom as he had already served out his sentence during the preliminary investigation and court trial. Boris Mazo was slapped with the jail term of 18 months and a 250,000-ruble fine. He left Russia after the sentence had been passed. Earlier reports said he was hiding in his mansion in Spain and was not planning to return to Russia.