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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arrested Ex-Minister Starts Hunger Strike

Former Justice Minister Valentin Kovalyov on Thursday morning announced he was going on a hunger strike following his detention Wednesday, RTR television reported.

Kovalyov went on a hunger strike to protest not being allowed to contact his lawyer, RTR said.

The former minister has been detained on suspicion of embezzling "a large sum of money" and illegal possession of a pistol, Reuters quoted the Interior Ministry as saying Wednesday.

"I can confirm that he has been detained and that an investigation is under way," chief ministry spokesman Yevgeny Ryabtsev was quoted as saying.

Reuters quoted another ministry spokesman as saying "Kovalyov is suspected of embezzling a large sum of money."

Kovalyov resigned in July 1997, after a newspaper printed grainy photographs of a video film purportedly showing him with naked women in a gangland sauna, Reuters reported.

Kovalyov, a lawyer and former Communist Party lawmaker, said the tape had been faked but he stepped down in order to clear his name, Reuters said.