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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kasyanov Ordered to Return Villa

A Moscow court on Friday ordered former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to give up what it said was an improperly obtained luxury villa.

The Federal Property Management Agency filed a suit against Kasyanov ­demanding that he return to the state the expensive riverside dacha and surrounding 11.5 hectare estate known as ­Sosnovka-1.

Kasyanov dismissed Friday's ruling as groundless, repeating earlier statements that he was the victim of a smear campaign started by the authorities after he announced he was joining the opposition and would run for president in the election next March.

"I expected this decision," Kasyanov said, Interfax reported. "Court proceedings have lasted for two years. This is their latest turn."

He said he would appeal.

The court will not issue an explanation for its ruling for at least several days.

The property agency also wanted at least 46.6 million rubles ($1.78 million) in compensation, a demand the court rejected. A spokeswoman for the court declined to comment on the ruling until the court issued an explanation.

Separately, Kasyanov said Saturday that apart from himself, he believed Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky, State Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov or United Civil Front leader Garry Kasparov could potentially be viewed as candidates to become the sole opposition candidate in the presidential election, Interfax reported.(MT, Reuters)