Arrest warrants for senior Russian government officials and members of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle have been issued by a Spanish judge investigating mafia networks.
The warrant issued by Spanish judge Jose de la Mata names 12 Russian citizens. They include current and former officials in Russian law enforcement, the judiciary, economic affairs, banking and security services with alleged links to Russian mafia gangs operating in Spain, El Mundo reported.
Among those named are Vladislav Reznik, deputy head of the State Duma's finance committee, and General Nikolai Aulov, the deputy director of the Federal Drug Control Service.
Reznik is a member of the general council of Putin's United Russia party, and Aulov a former KGB colleague of Putin in St Petersburg.
The investigation follows the 2008 arrest of alleged mafia kingpin Gennady Petrov and 20 alleged associates in raids by Spanish police. Investigators claim Petrov used his connection with the officials to secure favours for his criminal gang.
Also named in the warrant is former Deputy Chairman of the Investigative Committee, Igor Sobolev, who prosecutors allege informed the mafia gang of police activity in exchange for lavish gifts.
Prosecutors accuse the gang of involvement in murder, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, extortion, bribery and money laundering.
Reznik, Aulov and Sobolev deny all charges. Reznik told Russian media in 2015 that he would welcome the chance to travel to Spain to clear his name. Aulov's superior, Sergei Ivanov, head of the Investigative Committee told Kommersant that Aulov helped bust a criminal gang led by Petrov in St Petersburg in the early 90s.
Petrov was released by the police then arrested again in 2010. In 2012 he received permission to return to Russia but did not go back.
In July 2015 Spain charged 26 Russian and Spanish citizens suspected of involvement in the gang's crimes, however they did show up at a January court hearing. Spain does not try people in absentia.
In January, the Times reported that former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko may have been murdered because he was prepared to testify in court about links between organised crime and Russian government officials. Litvinenko was killed by radiation poisoning in London in 2004.
In 2010 Spanish prosecutor Jose Grinda was quoted describing Russia as a "virtual mafia state" in leaked US diplomatic cables.