Draganov Will Keep Immunity

For MTDraganov
Investigators will not demand that the State Duma lift immunity from senior United Russia deputy Valery Draganov, who is suspected of negligence and abuse of office as head of the State Customs Committee in the late 1990s, Vedomosti reported Thursday.

The statute of limitations for the purported crimes during Draganov's tenure as head of the committee in 1998 to 1999 is set to expire in February, officials from the Prosecutor General's Office were cited by Vedomosti as saying.

The Supreme Court ruled last month that an investigation could be opened into Draganov's activities, clearing the way for prosecutors to demand that his immunity from prosecution as a Duma deputy be rescinded.

The Investigative Committee has alleged that Draganov abused his authority by ordering customs payments to be placed in accounts at a bank not officially authorized by the government to perform such operations.

If charged and convicted, Draganov could face up to 10 years in prison.

Since a preliminary Supreme Court ruling in October stating that investigators had sufficient grounds to investigate the lawmaker, Draganov has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Top United Russia lawmakers, including Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, have defended Draganov amid the allegations, which have coincided with a new anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by President Dmitry Medvedev.