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Moscow court extends arrest of ex-drug control official

MOSCOW, November 28 (RIA Novosti) - A Moscow court has extended the custody for General Alexander Bulbov, a former senior drug control official suspected of illegal phone tapping, until March 15 following a request from prosecutors.

Bulbov, head of technological support at the Federal Drug Control Service, was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) at a Moscow airport in early October on suspicion of divulging state secrets and illegal phone tapping. A few days later, he was charged on six counts, which also included taking bribes, abuse of power and illegal business activity.

At the time of his arrest, Bulbov and his colleagues had been investigating a high-profile furniture smuggling case, which resulted in the arrests of five senior FSB officers last spring. The arrests of Bulbov along with the other drug agency officials prompted speculation of a conflict between the two state agencies.

In a statement circulated by his lawyers earlier, Bulbov said: "I insist that the legal action against me, including my arrest and the unsubstantiated charges, as well as the ongoing media frenzy, are due to my part in the investigation into the Tri Kita [furniture chain] and the smuggling of Chinese goods. FSB officials acted on their fear of new facts coming to light."

The general and his colleagues had been officially assigned to aid the smuggling investigation at the request of the Prosecutor General's Office.

A court earlier ordered Bulbov be taken into custody, fearing he could flee or destroy evidence and pressurize witnesses. The court also denied him bail despite guarantees provided by three of his bosses, citing his security background and high-profile connections.

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