Sat, 24 Apr 2021

Austrian authorities have placed Boris Mazo, a former employee of the Russian Culture Ministry who is wanted in Russia for fraud and embezzlement, into pre-extradition detention despite the insistence of his defense team he cannot be transported for medical reasons.

A court in Vienna ruled on February 25 that an independent expert will examine Mazo to make sure that he is able to make the trip safely to Russia, where he is accused of embezzling 450 million rubles ($6.1 million) from the state.

Former Deputy Culture Minister Grigory Pirumov, who was arrested in 2018 and is currently under house arrest in Moscow, is also a suspect in the case.

Investigators say that Mazo, Pirumov, and other former officials of the Culture Ministry also laundered up to 800 million rubles ($10.8 million) illegally obtained via fraudulent activities.

Austrian authorities detained Mazo in November at Spain's request.

Spanish investigators say Mazo might have laundered money he stole in Russia through the purchase of an expensive property in the southern city of Marbella.

However, the Austrian court decided to extradite Mazo to Russia, not Spain.

In 2017, Mazo and Pirumov were convicted in Moscow of embezzling 164 million rubles ($2.2 million), but the judge ruled then that the time spent by the two men in pretrial detention was sufficient punishment.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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