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    Prosecutors demand official's release in abuse of office case

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    The Russian Prosecutor General's Office has asked the Moscow City Court to release a senior drugs official accused of abuse of office, the business daily Kommersant said Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Prosecutor General's Office has asked the Moscow City Court to release a senior drugs official accused of abuse of office, the business daily Kommersant said Tuesday.

    General Alexander Bulbov, head of technological support at the federal drugs control agency, was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) at a Moscow airport October 3 on suspicion of disclosing state secrets and illegal phone tapping.

    Moscow's Basmanny Court ordered Bulbov be taken into custody, as "if at large Bulbov could flee or destroy evidence and pressurize witnesses," later denying him bail despite guarantees provided by three of his bosses, citing his security background and high-profile connections.

    The Prosecutor General's Office said the court had based its ruling on insufficient evidence in ordering Bulbov's arrest, adding that there was no witness testimony pointing to his involvement in the alleged crime.

    The paper said the next hearing of the case was set for October 31.

    Media reports earlier suggested the general's custody was FSB's retaliation for the arrest of five senior officials from the main domestic security body, last spring as part of a probe into the large-scale smuggling of furniture sold via Russia's largest furniture retailers, Tri Kita and Grand. The furniture was reportedly stored in the service's warehouses.

    Bulbov's department joined the investigation on orders from President Vladimir Putin over a year ago, when the president demanded technical assistance in the Tri Kita case.

    The general told the hearing that his arrest was over his activities at the drugs agency. His defense lawyers said they would appeal against the ruling, citing a lack of evidence substantiating their client's guilt.

    The deputy head of Russia's environmental watchdog joined accusations against Bulbov. Outspoken Oleg Mitvol said the general's family controls about 25% of real estate at a national park in Russia's westernmost enclave of Kaliningrad, some of which was illegally built on UNESCO-listed territory.

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