MOSCOW, July 2 (RAPSI) - Levon Airapetyan, currently under house arrest on charges in the Bashneft embezzlement case, claims lieutenant-colonel Alexei Veselyev, head of investigation, abused his authority, Airapetyan’s lawyer, Ruben Markaryan, told RAPSI on Thursday.

According to Markaryan, “on September 8, 2014, investigator Veselyev instructed the police to carry out specific investigative activity that targeted the lawyers who are involved in the case. The activity allegedly included monitoring the movement of their cars and making inquiries about their personal property.”

Markaryan says that, under federal laws on the activities of the legal profession in Russia, an order to carry out surveillance or searches against lawyers can only be issued by a court, which never happened. Investigator Veselyev apparently abused his investigative authority – all the more so since the lawyers were neither suspects nor defendants in the case, Markaryan said.

Airapetyan filed a petition with Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin on opening a criminal case against the head of investigation, Alexei Veselyev, under Article 286 of the Criminal Code (abuse of authority).

His defense attorney noted that lieutenant general Alexander Shchukin, Head of the State Investigative Directorate’s Investigative Committee, refused to make an enquiry into the incident because “there was no evidence.” The decision was appealed, with complaints filed with Bastrykin, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and the court.

Airapetyan’s attorneys also intend to address the administration of the Federal Chamber of Lawyers and the Moscow Chamber of Lawyers requesting measures to stop unlawful activity against lawyers, including surveillance and wiretapping the lawyers’ communication with their client.

Airapetyan is charged with involvement in an embezzlement case under which Ural Rakhimov, son of the former head of Bashkortostan Murtaza Rakhimov, sold Bashneft, a midsized oil company he headed for three years, to the oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Sistema in 2009 at a huge “discount” of $500 million.

The Prosecutor General’s Office filed a suit to return a 71.6 percent stake in Bashneft to the government. The Moscow Commercial Court ruled on October 30, 2014, in favor of the Prosecutor General's Office.

Airapetyan was also charged with embezzling $700,000 from Igor Izmestyev, a former representative of Bashkortostan in the upper house of parliament who was sentenced to life in prison for organizing terrorist attacks and murders in 2010.

Airapetyan holds dual citizenship, has assets abroad and was until recently living in Monaco. Prosecutors presented this information as grounds for arrest. In early October 2014, Airapetyan was placed under house arrest. His defense attorney asked the court to release him, citing health problems.