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Official In Russia's Chuvashia Region Convicted Of Forgery Linked To Chinese Investment Project

Residents of Chuvashia have staged numerous rallies in recent years protesting Chinese companies' involvement in the economic development of the region. (file photo)

SHUMERLYA, Russia -- An official in the Republic of Chuvashia in Russia's Volga region, where expanding Chinese investment has sparked protests in the past over alleged corruption, has been convicted of forgery linked to a Chinese agricultural deal.

Maksim Medvedev was found guilty of forging documents related to public discussions that never occurred to allocate the lands in 2019 to the Sichuan-Chuvashia Chinese-Russian agricultural joint venture.

The court in the Shumerlya district on August 10 also handed Medvedev, head of the Bolshiye Algashi village, a suspended prison sentence of more than three years.

A lawmaker of Chuvashia's State Council, Aleksandr Andreyev, had accused the republic's top officials of involvement in the illegal allocation of lands to the joint venture.

In the recent years, residents of Chuvashia have staged numerous rallies protesting Chinese companies' involvement in the economic development of the region, accusing local authorities of corruption related to such Chinese projects.

Medvedev refused to comment after the verdict and sentence were delivered. In the past, he had not made any public comments about the probe against him.

Chinese investment projects across Russia and former Soviet republics in Central Asia are largely linked to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was launched in 2013 and involves development and investment initiatives that would stretch from Asia to Europe and beyond.

More than 100 countries have signed agreements with China to cooperate in BRI projects like railways, ports, highways, and other infrastructure.

Critics say the plan to create a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade route to link China with Asia, Europe and beyond is a vehicle for the expansion of communist China. Beijing says such doubts betray the "imperial hangover" of many Western powers that humiliated China for centuries.