'Provocation': Moscow demands release of Russian senator detained in France

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A source cited by Reuters said the investigation centres on the purchase of several luxury residences on the French Riviera via shell companies, something that would have enabled Kerimov to reduce taxes owed to the French state.

Forbes Magazine ranks Kerimov as Russia's 21st richest businessman with a fortune of Dollars 6.6 billion.

The President of the global Committee of the Federation Council Konstantin Kosachev said that the Russian foreign Ministry sent an official note to the French authorities for apprehending, in nice Russian Senator Suleiman Kerimov, a suspect in the concealment and tax evasion.

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"The senator status and the fact that he is a Russian citizen is a guarantee that we will, of course, put in all possible efforts to defend his lawful interests", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

According to the Suleyman Kerimov Foundation website, Kerimov was a member of the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russian Federation from 1999 to 2007. Relations between Russian Federation and the West are already severely strained by the dispute over Ukraine and related, tit-for-tat economic sanctions.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday night it has notified France that Kerimov has diplomatic immunity.

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However, a French official cited by Reuters said: "Kerimov does have a diplomatic passport, but that does not protect him from prosecution".

Mr Kerimov did not include any property in southern France on his asset declaration as a senator this year and his representative has denied that he owned properties there.

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