A Moscow court has rejected an appeal to end the house arrest of former Economic Development Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev, who is facing bribery charges.
"The ruling of the Zamoskvoretsky Court of Moscow remains unchanged, and the appeal filed by defense lawyers is dismissed," the state-run Interfax news agency reported an unidentified judge as saying on August 30.
Uyukayev, whose arrest in November 2016 send shock waves through the business and political circles surrounding President Vladimir Putin, has been ordered to be held under house arrest through January 27, 2018.
Prosecutors say Ulyukayev was caught red-handed receiving a $2-million bribe in exchange for his ministry's approval for state oil giant Rosneft to acquire a majority stake in regional oil company Bashneft from the government.
Ulyukayev, in an earlier proceeding, told the court he was set up by Rosneft chief Igor Sechin and the Federal Security Service (FSB), which Kremlin critics say Russian authorities use as a tool in political and economic disputes.
Ulyukayev did not take part in the August 30 hearing, but his lawyer, Larisa Kashtanova, presented the appeal urging for his release, Russian news agencies reported.
The prosecutor, Boris Neporozhny, told the court that "Ulyukayev has not acknowledged his guilt” and could affect the testimony of Economic Development Ministry employees yet to testify if freed from house arrest.
The prosecution phase of his trial is expected to begin on September 1.