Ruling on Storchak Detention Delayed

Itar-TassStorchak entering Basmanny District Court on Thursday. A request to prolong his detention will be heard on Tuesday.
A Moscow court said Thursday that Sergei Storchak, the deputy finance minister charged with embezzlement, would remain in custody until Apr. 8 to allow investigators more time to gather material on the case.

The court put off the hearing to allow investigators to provide further information on how the case has proceeded, and details of any other charges that might be planned, Storchak's lawyers said after the hearing, news agencies reported.

Storchak, who led Russia's foreign debt negotiations and oversaw the $160 billion stabilization fund, was detained in November on suspicion of attempting to embezzle $43 million in state funds.

Some analysts have speculated that his arrest was used to put pressure on his boss, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, as a result of Kremlin infighting.

Storchak said Thursday that his detention had already cost the state more than $100 million. He has denied any guilt.

The Finance Ministry refused to comment Thursday.

The Investigative Committee, a semiautonomous agency under the auspices of the Prosecutor General's Office, said on the weekend that it was conducting an internal inquiry into Dmitry Dovgy, the lead investigator in the Storchak case, relating to how he and his staff handled official duties. It was not clear whether the probe was linked to the Storchak case.

Dovgy on Monday appealed to the Prosecutor General's Office for help, saying his life was in danger, Vremya Novostei reported Tuesday.

Dovgy on Monday wrote in the letter that he trusted neither his boss, Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin, nor his colleagues, the report said. Dovgy also wrote that he was being followed and that his home in Moscow was being watched, it said.