“Russia’s foreign missions in France are currently in constant contact with the French authorities, pushing for an immediate release of Kerimov,” Anna Slychkova, spokeswoman for the Russian embassy in France, said.
According to Slychkova, the member of the Russian upper house was detained and “transferred to a police station” after arriving from Moscow to Nice late on Monday.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that it has informed French authorities that Kerimov is a Russian senator with a diplomatic passport, and as such, entitled to immunity.
Kreimov was arrested as part of a tax evasion probe, the French Prosecutor’s Office told Reuters.
“He is being held for questioning in a case related to laundering of tax fraud proceeds,” an official at the prosecutor’s office said.
Frants Klintsevich, the Deputy head of the Committee for Defense and Security in Russia’s upper house, told Interfax the arrest of the senator “may be viewed as a provocation.”
Kerimov has represented his native Republic of Dagestan in the Federation Council of Russia since 2008. He’s ranked as the 21st wealthiest man in Russia by Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $6.3 billion. The 51-year-old shot to international prominence after he bought Russian football club, Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011, buying start players such as Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto’o to play for his side.