Russia arrests human rights activist on suspicion of fraud
A Moscow court on Thursday placed a leading human rights activist in pre-trial detention on suspicion of fraud, a case critics say is part of an ongoing crackdown on civil society.
Investigators alleged that Andrei Mayakov, the deputy head of the Committee for Civil Rights NGO, had accepted at least 900,000 rubles ($13,700) from a defendant in a criminal case, promising him he would bribe prosecutors for a ruling in his favour.
"Mayakov did not have acquaintances in the given subdivision of the prosecutor's office nor any other ways of influencing the procedural decision in a criminal case," investigators said in a statement published Thursday.
"He intended to pot the money he had received illegally."
Mayakov will remain in detention until November 16, Russian news agencies reported.
The spokesman of Russia's Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin, alleged on Twitter that Mayakov had been tried on fraud charges three times in the past.
Russia has upped pressure on NGOs since President Vladimir Putin's reelection in 2012, including with the adoption of a law that allows authorities to brand groups that receive funding from abroad as "foreign agents."
Ninety-two organisations, including prominent human rights group Memorial and elections monitor Golos, currently feature of the list of "foreign agents."
Critics have slammed the case against Mayakov, which they claim is fabricated.
"I have no doubt that this is some kind of provocation," firebrand opposition leader Alexei Navalny wrote on Twitter.
Investigations meanwhile castigated human rights workers, a string of whom have recently been detained over suspected economic crimes.
"It gives the impression that some use the noble notion of human rights for their selfish interests and, based on the recent cases, this so-called 'business' is becoming increasingly criminal," investigators said.
© 2015 AFP