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  Tuesday, July 7, 2020
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Moscow police have detained a former member of the Russian parliament from Kalmykia, Levon Chakhmakhchyan
Moscow police have detained a former member of the Russian parliament from Kalmykia, Levon Chakhmakhchyan, his lawyer said Thursday. "My client is being questioned at the Prosecutor General's Office," Boris Kuznetsov said. "No charges have been filed so far." Chakhmakhchyan was dismissed in June 2006 from his post as deputy head of the Federation Council's committee for self-government after being allegedly caught up in a bribery scandal. However, the former senator was immune from prosecution, and was not arrested at the time. He was caught during a sting operation, when FSB operatives found $300,000 in cash, which had been previously marked with special ink, in the office of the chief accountant of the Association of Russian-Armenian Business, of which Chakhmakhchyan was vice president. The FSB alleged that the funds had been taken as bribe money. Prosecutors said Chakhmakhchyan formed an organized crime group to extort funds from companies, including air carrier Transaero. Russia's Supreme Court agreed in December last year to launch criminal proceedings in absentia against Chakhmakhchyan, who was in the hospital at the time, but the former senator's defense appealed the decision. The appeal is scheduled to be reviewed by an appeal's court on March 6. "I consider actions against my client illegal because the Supreme Court's decision has not come into force," Kuznetsov said on Thursday, adding that the prosecutors would probably ask a Moscow court for an arrest warrant for Chakhmakhchyan. The lawyer said two suspects in the case had so far been arrested. However, he said his client dismisses all accusations as "absolute nonsense." When the scandal broke in last June, several MPs questioned the legality of measures taken against Chakhmakhchyan and asked for a special investigation into the case. However, 136 senators in the parliament's upper house voted for Chakhmakhchyan's dismissal.
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