MOSCOW, August 11 (RAPSI) — A Moscow court ordered media technology expert Olga Arkharova, PR specialist Inna Churilova and journalist Alexandra Bayazitova to be kept in custody until October 7 over alleged extortion from Promsvyazbank.

Investigators claim that Arkharova, Churilova and Bayazitova asked for money promising to keep a lid on publishing negative materials about Promsvyazbank and a number of persons associated with the bank.

Arkharova and Churilov pleaded guilty to extortion, while Bayazitova insists that she did not commit the crime she stands accused of.

Arkharova, Churilova and Bayazitova are believed to be connected to a network of Telegram channels, through which materials about the bank were supposed to be distributed. 

Promsvyazbank was a commercial bank until it was bailed out by the central bank and nationalised in 2017. The bank has focused on the defence sector since then. In February it was targeted with U.S. sanctions.

In the meantime, Yevgeny Moskvin, Viktor Malushenko and Alexey Slobodenyuk, suspected to be administrators of some popular Telegram channels, were detained earlier this week on fraud charges. They face up to six years in prison if convicted.