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Mikhail Kasyanov (file photo)
25 July 2005 -- Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, currently under investigation over a property deal, today accused Russian authorities of launching a campaign to discredit him.
Kasyanov made the accusation in a statement he issued in Moscow after returning from a holiday abroad. Though he has denied any wrongdoing, there had been speculation he would stay abroad for fear of prosecution.
He said the criminal probe into his acquisition of a state-owned villa is based on "distorted facts" and is part of a strategy aimed at "clearing" him from Russia's political landscape.
Russian authorities opened the probe into the transactions after a member of parliament demanded an investigation. Kasyanov has not been indicted in the case.
The Prosecutor-General's Office opened a criminal case into the transactions after a parliamentary deputy in the pro-Kremlin United Russia party demanded an investigation.
Critics say that the case against Kasyanov, a possible candidate in Russia's 2008 presidential elections, is a Kremlin warning to him to stay out of politics.
Scandal Brews Over Possible Probe Of Former Prime Minister