ST. PETERSBURG, March 18 (RAPSI, Mikhail Telekhov) – Owner and chief editor of Finnews online media outlet Vladimir Shevchenko on Monday pleaded not guilty to extortion of money from Russian Agricultural Bank, RAPSI reports from the Vasileostrovsky District Court of St. Petersburg.

During the hearing, the defendant’s lawyer Alexander Meleshko asked to release Shevchenko from the cage claiming that his client had not committed violent crimes. However, the motion was dismissed.

Shevchenko stands charged with extortion aimed at grand larceny. 

Starting 2018, Shevchenko allegedly published on his website several negative articles about Russian Agricultural Bank and its president Dmitry Patrushev. Investigators claim that in March 2018 a bank representative contacted the defendant and Shevchenko offered him to publish positive articles for 50,000 rubles ($800) per month.

The journalist was arrested when received 500,000 rubles ($8,000) as a year fee. During searches at his premises, police seized payment documents of other banks amounting from 30,000 to 500,000 rubles.

According to the St. Petersburg prosecutor’s office, in 2016 was charged with online extremism. At that time, he pleaded guilty and was fined 200,000 rubles ($3,000).