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Jailed Inventor Fears Magnitsky's Fate

A businessman charged with fraud, released from custody, and then arrested again after he posted an online video appeal to President Dmitry Medvedev went on trial in Moscow's Tverskoi District Court on Wednesday.

Yury Fink says his case echoes that of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who like him was jailed in the Butyrskaya pretrial detention center after accusing Interior Ministry officials of corruption, and he fears that his fate will be the same. Magnitsky died in November after suffering ill health for months without adequate medical care.

Fink spent a year in Butyrskaya but was released in April because of Kremlin-backed legislation that prohibits the detention of suspects accused of economic crimes.

In May, Fink, a former rock musician turned inventor, posted a video on YouTube accusing unspecified officials in the Interior Ministry's Investigative Committee of trying to take control of his company General Telekom, which develops and sells transportation safety systems that often use his inventions.

"Their target was my company's billions of rubles," Fink said in the video.

"Now death in pretrial detention hangs over my head," he said.

In June, the same court that released Fink ruled to detain him again, saying he might exert pressure on witnesses in the case or flee abroad.

In 2008, Fink's company won a 4 million ruble ($128 million) contract to supply train safety control systems for Russian Railways. Fink said he faced pressure to turn over profits from the contract soon after the deal was arranged.

Representatives for Fink's lawyer, Tatyana Peshekhonova, said Wednesday that she would not comment on the case because she feared that her remarks would be construed as exerting pressure on the witnesses.

The Interior Ministry's Investigative Committee could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Fink faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the fraud charges.

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