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Apr 21, 4:38 AM EDT

Influential Ukrainian politician detained in graft probe

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MOSCOW (AP) -- Ukrainian investigators are preparing to ask a court to arrest an influential former lawmaker suspected of embezzlement, a second senior political figure to have been detained in the former Soviet republic in less than two months.

Mykola Martynenko, a top ally of former prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, was detained late on Thursday in the capital Kiev after the National Anti-Corruption Bureau announced it was preparing to file charges against him. The former chairman of the parliament's energy and fuel committee is suspected of embezzling $17.3 million by using his company to arrange purchases of uranium ore concentrate for a state-owned company which provides uranium for the country's nuclear power stations.

Nazar Kholodnytsky, head of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, said in televised comments on Friday that prosecutors would ask the Solomyansky district court later in the day to put Martynenko under a two-month arrest or on bail of 300 million hryvnias ($11 million)

Martynenko's detention comes less than two months after Roman Nasirov, chief of the Ukrainian Fiscal Service, was arrested pending trial on embezzlement charges. Like Martynenko, Nasirov has been mentioned in various journalist investigations on official corruption in Ukraine.

Martynenko had served in the Ukrainian parliament since 1998 but stepped down in December following reports of his involvement in money laundering in Switzerland. He has often been described as the financier behind Yatsenyuk's People's Front party.

Embezzlement charges that the former lawmaker faces could send him to prison for 12 years.

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