Thursday, July 19, 2007

Russia: Presidential hopeful charged with corruption

Russian presidential hopeful charged with corruption
Published: Friday, 20 July, 2007, 01:50 AM Doha Time

MOSCOW: The mayor of a Russian city, who has declared he will run in the 2008 presidential elections, was charged with corruption yesterday in a case denounced by critics as “political”.
Alexander Donskoi, 37, mayor of the port city of Arkhangelsk in northern Russia, “was formally charged with abuse of office today”, a spokeswoman for the Arkhangelsk prosecutor’s office told AFP.
Donskoi was detained for using some $157,000 in city budget funds to pay for bodyguards for himself and family members, the Arkhangelsk prosecutor’s office said in a statement earlier.
During his arrest hearing yesterday, Donskoi accused prosecutors of waging a “political” campaign against him linked to his presidential candidacy, the website of the mayor’s office said.
“I did not plan a coup d’etat, I just said that I wanted to run for president,” Donskoi said at his arrest hearing yesterday, a statement on the website said.
His wife, Marina, told AFP in a telephone interview that Donskoi was recovering at home from stress.
The prosecutor’s office spokeswoman said that Donskoi had been checked by doctors and was fit to face court hearings. He will be held in a pre-trial detention centre until the hearing, she said.
“All these problems are of course linked to his presidential candidacy,” said Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group and a former Soviet dissident. “This story shows that there’s no democracy here,” she said.
Marina Litvinovich, a campaigner from the opposition movement The Other Russia, said the detention fits a wider crackdown by the authorities “against anyone who doesn’t agree with them”. – AFP

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