Former Russian mayor to be charged with stealing

August 5th, 2008 - 10:57 pm ICT by IANS  

RIA Novosti
Moscow, Aug 5 (RIA Novosti) Russian prosecutors said Tuesday that the former mayor of the southern Russian city of Stavropol would to be charged with stealing some 19 million rubles ($810,000). Dmitry Kuzmin, 42, was detained Monday at an airport in Vienna on suspicion of illegal real estate deals.

He was placed on the federal wanted list late last year, and documents for his extradition to Russia are currently being prepared, according to prosecutors.

A case was opened against Kuzmin on the eve of Russia’s December 2007 parliamentary elections. The former mayor was number two on the candidate list for the A Just Russia party.

However, on Nov 30, 2007, a local court ruled to strip Kuzmin of the post of mayor and bar him from taking part in the upcoming elections. Kuzmin disappeared immediately after the court’s decision.

Another A Just Russia member, the speaker of the regional parliament, Andrey Utkin, was also removed from his post and arrested on similar charges.

Stavropol was and remains the only Russian region whose local legislature and capital are under the control of the A Just Russia party and not the ruling United Russia.

Prosecutors say the charges against Kuzmin involve the illegal sale of municipal property.

“This has nothing to do with the fight against corruption,” Valery Khomyakov, the general director of the Council for National Strategy, told the Gazeta newspaper Tuesday.

“There is a clear political component here,” he said, going on to add that the situation was most likely the result of a power struggle between regional mayors and governors.

Mayoral and local parliamentary elections are due in Stavropol Oct 12.
RIA Novosti

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