Russian court releases reputed crime boss
MOSCOW — Semyon Mogilevich, an alleged organized crime boss who is also wanted in the United States, was released from pretrial detention 18 months after his arrest in Moscow, the Interior Ministry said Monday.
A Moscow court freed Mogilevich on an oath not to flee, said Irina Dudukina, spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry’s investigative committee. He was released Friday along with his business partner Vladimir Nekrasov, she said.
The two men had been in custody since their arrest in January 2008 on tax evasion charges relating to a prominent chain of cosmetics stores. The latest extension to their detention period expired Sunday and prosecutors did not ask for a further extension.
The Moscow court had begun to hear the case, but in June sent it back to prosecutors for corrections.
The U.S. has accused Mogilevich, a Ukrainian-born Russian citizen, of running a powerful organized crime ring in the 1990s, headquartered in Budapest.
The FBI director said in 2005 that Mogilevich’s organization engaged in drug and weapons trafficking, prostitution, money laundering and stock fraud. He has been on the FBI’s wanted list since 2003, accused of manipulating the stock of a Pennsylvania-based company, YBM Magnex Inc., which collapsed in 1998.
Russia has no plans to hand over Mogilevich for prosecution in the United States.
The Russian charges against Mogilevich were seen as possibly linked to his alleged involvement in the multibillion-dollar natural gas trade between Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine’s prime minister has said she suspected Mogilevich was involved in RosUkrEnergo, a Russian-Ukrainian joint venture that served as a middleman in Ukrainian gas purchase until January 2009. Mogilevich has denied any connection to RosUkrEnergo. The company also said it had no relationship with Mogilevich.