Prosecutors in Moscow announced last night that they had opened a criminal investigation into the former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov for illegal acquisition of property. Mr Kasyanov, prime minister during Vladimir Putin's first term as president and finance minister under Boris Yeltsin, emerged this year as a potential contender for the presidency in 2008 and in February called on the opposition to unite, accusing Mr Putin of stifling democratic values such as an independent judiciary and media, and a free business climate.
Recent newspaper reports have accused Mr Kasyanov of using a front company for the purchase of a prime piece of state land for a fraction of its worth on the day he left office in February last year. The claims were widely seen as "kompromat" - compromising allegations designed to warn Mr Kasyanov to stay away from politics.
Last night, the general prosecutor's office confirmed the investigation was initiated by Alexander Khinshtein, a journalist and pro-Kremlin deputy in the lower house of parliament. It did not give details.
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the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
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