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Russian Ex-Mayor, Charged With Extortion, To Stay Jailed

Aleksandr Serov is suspected of extorting money from a local businessman.
BRATSK, Russia -- A court in eastern Russia has ruled that a former mayor charged with extortion will remain in jail despite demonstrations calling for his release, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Aleksandr Serov, the former mayor of the town of Bratsk in Irkutsk Oblast, will remain in custody until April 3.

Bratsk court officials told journalists on February 21 that Serov's appeal for his release from pretrial detention was rejected.

Serov was detained on February 3 for allegedly extorting a large sum of money from a local businessman. He resigned as mayor immediately after he was arrested and charged.

Bratsk residents staged several protests over the weekend to demand Serov's immediate release.

Bratsk, a city of some 260,000 people, has been declared an ecological disaster zone because of polution from the Usolye chemical plant and the Bratsk aluminum plant.

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