MADRID (AP) — A Spanish judge wants two senior Russian officials with links to the Kremlin arrested so they can be questioned in court about suspected money laundering and criminal association.
National court judge Jose de la Mata Amaya has issued international arrest warrants for Nikolai Aulov, deputy director of Russia's federal drug control agency, and Vladislav Reznik, who is a member of parliament's lower house for the main Kremlin party and deputy chairman of its financial markets committee. Both men are viewed as allies of President Vladimir Putin.
They are among 15 suspects in a years long investigation into alleged Russian mafia activities in Spain, according to court documents released this week. The court said their whereabouts are not known.
The judge handed down his ruling in January. A national court spokesman said the case was never placed under judicial secrecy after the arrest orders were issued on Jan. 22 but it only became publicly known after Spain's El Mundo on Tuesday published a story based on documents outlining the judge's order.
The spokesman said he did not know whether those named in the document had Spanish lawyers. He spoke on condition of anonymity, in keeping with court policy.
The Russian federal drug control agency said the Spanish judge's decision to seek Aulov's arrest was "legally unprofessional, a political hit job and perhaps connected with drug mafia revenge," the state RIA Novosti news agency reported.
A lawyer for Reznik, Alexander Gofshtein, also has described the case as being politically driven.
The judge ordered that three suspects should be held without bail if they are captured. The others, including Aulov and Reznik, are to be brought to Spain for questioning so that a judge can determine whether they should also be held pending a possible trial.
If they are in Russia, however, that is unlikely since Russia's constitution bars the extradition of Russian citizens to other countries.
Lynn Berry in Moscow contributed to this report. Hatton reported from Lisbon, Portugal.
This story has been corrected to show that the El Mundo story appeared on Tuesday