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Russian court orders Kirov governor be kept in custody

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court ordered on Saturday that Nikita Belykh, the governor of the Kirov region, should be taken into custody for two months, after investigators said they had caught him accepting a bribe in a restaurant.

Belykh has been critical of the Kremlin and was formerly leader of the Union of Rightist Forces party. Investigators denied there was any political reason for his detention.

The court denied the defense's appeal for house arrest or bail and ordered that Belykh be held until Aug. 24, a Reuters correspondent reported from the court. It was not clear when the court would next meet to look at the case.

"We consider this decision absolutely unlawful. We will appeal against this measure to the Moscow city court," Belykh's lawyer Sergei Teterin said.


"As to his innocence, I am confident that this will be the question at the future hearing, and he has every chance to prove it," Teterin said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday President Vladimir Putin had been informed about Belykh's detention but could not say whether he would be dismissed.

(Reporting by Nikolai Isaev and Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Hugh Lawson)