Top Russian economic expert faces embezzlement charges

MOSCOW (AP) — A leading economic expert in Russia was detained Thursday on embezzlement charges as part of a high-profile case that some observers saw as linked to purges targeting members of the country's liberal elite.

Investigators accused Vladimir Mau, the rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, embezzling funds from the institution, a leading school for public servants. Mau denied the charges.

Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court put Mau under house arrest pending the ongoing probe, in accordance with the investigators' request, rejecting Mau’s plea to be freed on bail.

Since the early 1990s, Mau has served as a senior economic adviser to the Russian government. He received high state awards from President Vladimir Putin in 2012 and 2017.

The investigators said the accusations were part of a broader embezzlement probe in which Marina Rakova, a former deputy education minister who worked alongside Mau, testified against him.

Rakova and Sergei Zuyev, the rector of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, a leading non-state Russian university, also faced embezzlement accusations. Zuyev denied them.

Kremlin critics have described the arrests as part of a widening government crackdown on independent voices amid the military action in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on Mau's detention.

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