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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mavrodi Fires Opening Shots in Race

One day after his release from prison, Sergei Mavrodi, the chairman of MMM investment company, said Friday that he plans to set up a political party, using the company's shareholders as the basis of the organization.

"I plan to transform the union of shareholders into a political party," Mavrodi said at his first press conference celebrating his release from Moscow's Matrosskaya Tishina prison by a Moscow court, pending his trial on tax evasion charges.

"The state does it best to hinder the work of MMM," he said. "I am responsible for the fate of people who entrusted their savings to me. Therefore, I plan to establish a political party" to help protect them.

Mavrodi, who is running for a seat in the State Duma in a by-election Oct. 30, said he would help his shareholders by "any available means" to fight government actions against MMM, a pyramid company which collapsed last July causing millions of backers to lose their savings.

However, he said there was no question of giving back money to any of the millions of shareholders.

Maintaining that the company would soon be back to profitability, he said, "You would only return money to shareholders if you were winding up the company. Our company is working normally." He added, "There is no question of closing it down or giving anyone their money back."

Asked about his political support, Mavrodi expressed thanks to Vladimir Zhirinovsky's ultranationalist Liberal Democrats, the only parliamentary faction which came out openly in his support. "But I do not agree with most of their ideas," he added.

Mavrodi said he would take legal proceedings over what he called his unlawful imprisonment, although he had yet to ascertain who was responsible.

He also said he planned to sue a number of top officials, including the first deputy prime-minister, Oleg Soskovets, who he said had insulted him during his imprisonment.

Mavrodi was detained on Aug. 4, nine days after the MMM collapse. Two weeks later he was charged with resisting search and large-scale tax evasion.

On Sept. 23 he was registered as a candidate in a by-election to the State Duma on Oct. 30.

He was released on Thursday on the order of the Kuybyshevsky district court with the proviso that he remain in Moscow.

Asked about what kind of business MMM was now involved in, Mavrodi said the company "does what is profitable at the moment" but declined to be more specific.