Russia's top investigative agency rejects claims of billionaire's release

Associated Press

A Russian billionaire's company has claimed he has been freed from house arrest, but its statement was immediately rejected by the nation's top criminal investigation agency.

Russia's Investigative Committee said Friday that Vladimir Yevtushenkov has remained under house arrest, dismissing the claim of his release issued by his Sistema holding company.

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Tuesday's arrest by the nation's top criminal investigation agency of 65-year old Yevtushenkov on money laundering charges has sent shock waves through the country's business community, drawing comparisons to the arrest of tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2003.

Yevtushenkov's arrest drew strong protests from some of the nation's top businessmen, who warned that the measure was unfounded and would further worsen Russia's investment climate already hurt by Western economic sanctions over Ukraine.