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Prosecutors Formally Charge Mirilashvili

Published: February 2, 2001 (Issue # 641)


Mikhail Mirilashvili, a prominent Russian-Israeli businessman and vice president of the Russian Jewish Congress, was formally charged with kidnapping by prosecutors on Wednesday.

"The charge remains the same," said Gennady Ryabov, spokesman for the City Prosecutor - that Mirilashvili organized the abduction of two people last September. "Our preliminary investigation may take up to six months, but [we] hope to finalize the case earlier."

Mirilashvili's lawyer, Yury Novolodsky, called the charge "unsubstantiated, absurd and having no [chance in court]."

"I am 100 percent sure that the charge - which is more than vague - will fall to pieces in court," said Novolodsky on Thursday. "I expect prosecutors to provide more details. No court would accept the charge in its present state."

More prominent local citizens came to Mirilashvili's defense this week as another letter was circulated in the press Wednesday. The letter was addressed to the City Prosecutor's Office, and was signed by such figures as Andrei Petrov, head of the St. Petersburg Composers' Union, actors Oleg Basilashvili, Mikhail Boyarsky and Mikhail Svetin, poet and singer Alexander Rosenbaum and singer Lyudmila Senchina.

"We are especially worried to learn of the illegal methods of investigation applied to suspects [in the case]," it read. "Society will not accept the use in criminal proceedings of physical and psychological pressure, which we consider to be a serious violation of human rights."

"I don't know Mirilashvili personally, but I know of his [philanthropic] activities and of his kindness," said Basilashvili in a telephone interview on Thursday.

Supporters of Mirilashvili have repeatedly pointed to his charitable work in St. Petersburg.

"Until [prosecutors] come up with a concrete charge, he should be released, even if he is placed under house arrest."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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