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Russian Court Charges Ukraine's Interior Minister In Absentia

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stands at a checkpoint near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk on May 5.

Moscow's Basman District Court has charged Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov in absentia with involvement in murders and other crimes.

Judge Natalya Mushnikova ruled on July 9 that Avakov must be held in pretrial detention for two months if he is ever brought to Russia.

Avakov is accused of organizing murders, the use of banned methods of warfare, kidnapping, and the obstruction of journalists' activities.

The same court ordered the arrest in absentia of the governor of Ukraine's eastern region of Dnipropetrovsk, Ihor Kolomoyskiy, on July 2 on the same charges.

Russia added Kolomoyskiy and Avakov to its wanted list on June 21.

The charges come as Ukrainian forces continue their offensive against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country.

Based on reporting by Interfax and ITAR-TASS