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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report: Kasyanov Has $40M Property

ReutersFormer Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov
Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who is at the center of a criminal investigation into whether he illegally acquired a luxury residence, may own property worth $40 million in the Moscow region, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Wednesday.

Izvestia, meanwhile, reported that an investigation by its staff had failed to find any link between Kasyanov and a company he is alleged to have used to acquire the luxury state-owned residence at a knockdown price.

The Prosecutor General's Office said Monday that it was investigating whether Kasyanov broke the law in acquiring the residence in a gated community in western Moscow shortly before he was fired as prime minister in February 2004.

Kasyanov, who is abroad on vacation, has denied wrongdoing. Political analysts say the case appears to be a Kremlin-orchestrated attempt to derail a possible Kasyanov presidential bid by tainting him with allegations of corruption.

Adding fuel to the corruption allegations, Oleg Mitvol, a deputy head of the Federal Service for the Inspection of Natural Resources Use, said in remarks published Wednesday in Komsomolskaya Pravda that Kasyanov owned a 5-hectare plot near Rublyovskoye Shosse west of Moscow.

"Such a plot costs about 40 million -- not rubles, dollars," Mitvol was quoted as saying.

Kasyanov was a relatively low-paid career bureaucrat, and land along Rublyovskoye Shosse is among the most expensive in the country.

Mitvol could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A written request to his agency for verification of the published remarks went unanswered.

A woman living near the 5-hectare plot and a construction worker living in temporary housing on it could not say whether Kasyanov owned the property, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.

Alexander Khinshtein, a muckraking reporter and a State Duma deputy with United Russia who lodged the complaint that prompted the investigation, has claimed that Kasyanov obtained the residence in the gated community through a company called Art-Group, which he says Kasyanov set up four months before he was fired.

Izvestia, however, reported Wednesday that Art-Group was established by the Moscow-based firm Regens and sold to an unidentified buyer.

Art-Group's former chief, Regens employee Dmitry Buyuris, told the newspaper that Kasyanov was not the buyer.

He said he would identify the buyer only if asked by police.

Kasyanov, who has publicly criticized the Kremlin in recent months, hinted in February that he might run for president in the 2008 election.