Moscow: Court Sanctions Ex-Senator’s Arrest

Moscow Times, Russia
Feb 2 2007

Court Sanctions Ex-Senator’s Arrest
By Natalya Krainova
Staff Writer

Levon Chakhmakhchyan arriving at Basmanny District Court on Thursday.

The Basmanny District Court on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for
former Federation Council member Levon Chakhmakhchyan, who was
detained Thursday morning on suspicion of accepting a $300,000 bribe
while in office.

Chakhmakhchyan was expelled from the upper house and stripped of
immunity from prosecution last June after security agents claimed to
have caught him with the bribe during a sting operation.

The former senator from Kalmykia has consistently maintained his

Under the ruling, Chakhmakhchyan can be held in police custody for up
to two months. "Chakhmakhchyan’s health and family situation do not
prohibit his confinement in a pretrial detention facility," the judge
said, Interfax reported.

The judge further motivated his decision by saying that if
Chakhmakhchyan remained at liberty, he "could influence witnesses and
incline them to testify in his favor."

The law states that if charges are not filed against Chakhmakhchyan
within 10 days, he should walk free.

Police took Chakhmakhchyan into custody at a Moscow hospital where he
had been undergoing treatment, his lawyer, Boris Kuznetsov, said

The judge agreed with prosecutors’ contention that Chakhmakhchyan had
extended his medical treatment in order to avoid facing prosecution,
Interfax reported.

The ex-senator called his lawyer at around 8:30 a.m. and passed the
telephone to Rafail Kmet, a major case investigator from the
Prosecutor General’s Office. Kmet announced that Chakhmakhchyan had
been detained, Kuznetsov said.

The lawyer maintained that both the detention of his client and the
arrest warrant were illegal, and said he would appeal the judge’s

"A person … against whom a criminal investigation has not been
opened cannot be detained. It’s not that the court should not have
issued this ruling; it had no right to consider the case," Kuznetsov
told Interfax.

Chakhmakhchyan was first detained along with two other suspects at a
Transaero office in early June 2006, but was released because he then
enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

Prosecutors claimed that his two associates — Igor Arushanov, chief
accountant of the Association of Russian-Armenian Business
Partnership, and Armen Oganesyan, an Audit Chamber official —
received the $300,000 from a businessman in exchange for the promise
of quashing a negative Audit Chamber report on his company’s

Chakhmakhchyan was the president of the association. Oganesyan is his
son-in-law. Chakhmakhchyan said the incident was a set up.

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