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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arkhangelsk Mayor Under Fire

Arkhangelsk Mayor Alexander Donskoi was charged Monday with faking his university diploma and participating in illegal business activities while in office, Itar-Tass reported.

If convicted, Donskoi faces up to two years in prison.

His troubles began late last year, when he announced plans to run for president in 2008.

Donskoi, speaking to supporters, blamed the legal attack on his chief political rival, Arkhangelsk Governor Nikolai Kiselyov.

His comments followed a meeting Monday with prosecutors in Arkhangelsk. A spokesman for Donskoi said he signed a pledge not to leave town until the inquiry ends.

Investigators searched Donskoi's office and apartment Jan. 17.

Donskoi maintains his innocence. He told reporters Monday that "charges with nonexistent crimes have been brought against me to drive me from office," Itar-Tass reported.

The criminal investigation into Donskoi, which is being spearheaded by the division that oversees high-profile crimes at the regional prosecutor's office, came up at President Vladimir Putin's annual news conference Feb. 1 in the Kremlin.

Putin suggested, at the time, that Donskoi's troubles were related to squabbling between him and Kiselyov, the Arkhangelsk governor.