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Moscow Refuses to Release 3 Bulgarians over Diplomatic Row

Date: 08.11.2009

Russian authorities have extended the detention of the three Bulgarian citizens, who were arrested on Friday in the wake of the Russian police raid into the Bulgarian Industrial Center in Moscow.

Nikola Nikolov, Kostadin Kostov and Krasimir Velchev are connected with the Bulgarian company Millenium 2001, whose offices and rented apartments at the Bulgarian Industrial Center in Moscow were targeted by the Russian police forces on Thursday.

They will be kept behind bars for another 72 hours so that investigators can collect more evidence on the allegations of producing piracy CDs and software.

The Bulgarians have protested their innocence and have hired lawyers to defend them.

The court first hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday.

The police raid on the Bulgarian Industrial Center in Moscow left Bulgaria and Russia tangled in a dispute over its diplomatic immunity.

Bulgaria’s Ambassador to Russia, Plamen Grozdanov, stated the two countries were holding negotiations over the status of the buildings of the Bulgarian Industrial Center in Moscow.

In his words, Bulgaria and Russia have been negotiating for years for the status of a number of real estate properties.

Bulgaria says the Industrial Center enjoys diplomatic immunity, a claim that has been rejected by the Russian side.

It is not clear what items have been taken by the Russian police during their Thursday’s raid at the Bulgarian Industrial Center.

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