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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

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



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 meetings every Tuesday night 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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