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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Advertising Chief Kept In Jail Over Plane Ticket

A Moscow court heard an outpouring of support for the city government’s jailed advertising chief, including from Mayor Yury Luzhkov, State Duma deputies and crooner Iosif Kobzon.

The judge might have been inclined to release Vladimir Makarov, head of the Moscow Advertising Committee, on bail pending trial. But then the state prosecutor approached the bench with a slip of paper: an e-ticket in Makarov’s name for a flight to Israel the next day.

The judge sent Makarov back to jail.

Moscow City Hall on Thursday furiously denounced the contentious hearing in the Basmanny District Court as a frame-up in a fabricated case.

“We think that the accusations in this case are initially biased,” City Hall spokesman Sergei Tsoi said. “The goal is to get evidence proving the guilt of the chief of the Moscow Advertising Committee at any cost, even illegally.”

Makarov, the municipal official responsible for selling advertising space in the capital, was arrested Aug. 19 on suspicion of improperly offering more than $4 million in discounts to private companies.

On Wednesday, Makarov’s lawyers presented petition after petition to the Basmanny court to free their client pending trial. Among the authors of the letters were a group of United Russia deputies and Kobzon. A deputy mayor attended the hearing to testify to Luzhkov’s support of Makarov.

But then prosecutor Zelimkhan Kostoyev handed the judge the piece of paper, a Transaero e-ticket to Tel Aviv, bought anonymously in Makarov’s name on Monday.

Investigators were informed about the ticket by an anonymous call, and Transaero later confirmed the booking, Kommersant reported Thursday.

“It’s surprising that investigators use anonymous calls and anonymous provocateurs who assert that Makarov bought a ticket to Israel for Thursday and would take advantage of being released from custody,” Tsoi told Interfax.

Prosecutor Kostoyev, incidentally, is also overseeing the case into fugitive cell phone tycoon Yevgeny Chichvarkin.

Makarov is suspected of providing 50 percent discounts to a number of private firms, an authority that he didn’t have, investigators said. His actions are believed to have cost the city at least 131 million rubles ($4.1 million). But Tsoi said a City Hall audit had uncovered no losses. “We solemnly declare that the city has not suffered a loss,” he said.

Makarov has denied wrongdoing. If and convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.