KYIV -- A municipal appeals court in Kyiv has upheld the two-month pretrial detention of Roman Nasirov, Ukraine's suspended tax and customs service chief, on embezzlement charges.
The appeals court also ruled on March 13 that bail allowing Nasirov to be transferred to house arrest should not be changed from the $3.7 million figure set by a lower court in Kyiv.
In a rare attempt to prosecute a high-level official in Ukraine over alleged corruption, Nasirov is being investigated on suspicion of defrauding the state of 2 billion hryvnias ($74 million).
Nasirov was suspended from his post on March 3 and a district court in Kyiv on March 7 ordered him placed in pretrial detention for two months.
Dozens of demonstrators who want to ensure Nasirov does not escape trial rallied outside the appeals court building on March 13 as the hearing progressed.
The protesters chanted "Nasirov belongs behind bars!"
Ukraine’s National Anticorruption Bureau says Nasirov signed off on grace periods for a number of taxpayers, including companies linked to a former lawmaker who fled the country in 2016 while facing a corruption investigation.
President Petro Poroshenko and Ukraine’s government are under pressure from Ukrainians and Western countries to fight corruption.
Critics say corruption runs so deep in Ukraine that it hurts the country’s chances of throwing off the influence of Russia, which seized the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backs separatists in eastern Ukraine.