Russian investigators have summoned ex-Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov for questioning over an inquiry linked to a 13-billion ruble ($444 million) bank loan.
A source in Russia’s interior ministry told RIA Novosti that Luzhkov’s questioning was set for October 28.
Luzhkov linked the summoning to his recent interview with Radio Liberty in which he criticized Russia’s leadership and ruling United Russia party. “I have reasons to suppose that the summoning is linked to my interview with radio Liberty.”
Luzhkov said he is presently not in Russia. “I am at an international medical conference abroad. When I return to Moscow I, as a law-abiding citizen, will come in contact with the investigators,” he added.
Late last year, investigators launched an inquiry into a deal under which Russia’s fifth biggest bank, Bank of Moscow, lent 12.76 billion rubles ($413.3 million) to an obscure real estate firm. The firm, Premier Estate, went on to buy land for a construction company owned by Luzhkov’s wife, Yelena Baturina, at prices higher than average.
Baturina is believed to be Russia’s richest woman with an estimated fortune of some $1.1 billion.
The offices of her Inteco firm and Bank of Moscow were raided by police in February. The bank’s former head, Andrei Borodin, a Luzhkov ally, has fled Russia.
Last month, VTB, Russia’s second-biggest lender, raised its ownership share in Bank of Moscow to over 80 percent.