MOSCOW, April 17 (RAPSI) - Ex-head of Russia’s Mari El Republic Leonid Markelov, charged with receiving a large-scale bribe, and his alleged accomplice Natalia Kozhanova have appealed a ruling to launch a criminal case against them, Trunov, Aivar & Partners law firm announced on its website on Monday.

According to lawyer Igor Trunov representing interests of Kozhanova, head manager of “Telecompany 12 Region”, investigator’s order to carry out searches in the place of residence for his client was also appealed. The attorney asks the Basmanny District Court of Moscow to find actions of an investigator unlawful and to return documents and material property seized during the searches to their owners.

Earlier, Markelov and Kozhanova have been detained until June 12.

Markelov pleaded not guilty to receiving a 235 million-ruble (about $4.1 million) bribe. According to the ex-head of Mari El, investigators are confused regarding figures related to the transfer of money between companies and individuals.

Law enforcement agencies believe that transfer of bribe was disguised by fictitious deals involving organizations controlled by the defendants in this case.

Markelov insists that financial relations between the companies were related to the construction of a large agricultural holding. Former head of the region called himself a “lobbyist, in a good sense of word” who managed to “attract 370 billion rubles ($6.4 billion) of investments into “the dead region”. He added that he could not influence transfer of government subsidies to the Akashevskaya factory.

According to the Investigative Committee, the probe was opened into Markelov and other persons in relation to alleged reception of bribes, giving a bribe and mediation in bribery. Investigators believe that Markelov has received a 235 million ruble bribe from the head of Akashevskaya factory Nikolay Krivash for patronage and assistance in the property payment of funds provided by state support for development of the agricultural complex. Kozhanova is charged with mediation in bribery.

On April 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted voluntary resignation of Markelov, who was governing the region for 16 years.