A former member of Odessa City Council has been arrested in Moscow on suspicion of selling smuggled items of historical value. The Ukrainian ex-politician is accused of trying to offload antiques for $2.3 million.
Oleg Markov, previously a member of one-time Ukrainian ruling faction ‘Party of Regions’, is to be detained for two months for allegedly attempting to pass on Iron Age Scythian gold, as well as an amphora with stones, a necklace, a bracelet, and a medallion.
If found guilty by a court, Markov could be imprisoned for up to seven years.
According to a source cited by Russian daily Izvestia, Markov was arrested at a bank branch in the center of Moscow, during a staged purchase organized by police. The value of the sale was supposed to be $2.3 million. The accused former politician maintains his innocence and intends to appeal his detention, according to lawyer Sergey Bulaev.
“From our point of view, the investigation did not prove the fact that it was Markov who illegally transported gold items across the Russian border,” said Bulaev. “And the sale of jewelry, even of historical value, is not a crime in itself. So we will definitely appeal the decision to send Markov into custody.”
Markov is a former deputy of the Odessa City Council, in the south of Ukraine. His grouping, the Party of Regions, held the Ukrainian presidency between 1999-2004, and 2010-14. Following the 2014 Maidan revolution, its former leader, President Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Russia. Markov himself also moved to the country, after being extradited to Ukraine from Italy on suspicion of hooliganism.