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Russian Accused of Blackmailing Ex-Governor: Lift Gag Order

Svetlana Zakharova, a Russian woman who was accused of blackmailing disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, is seeking to lift a court-mandated gag order.

A Russian woman who was accused of blackmailing disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer is seeking to lift a court-mandated gag order so she can talk about what she says are Spitzer's fetishes.

Svetlana Zakharova filed papers in Manhattan state Supreme Court seeking to lift the gag order imposed as part of her prosecution, the New York Post reported on Thursday.

Zakharova called police in February 2016 and claimed Spitzer had choked her at The Plaza hotel. She later dropped the assault accusation.

Zakharova was arrested in October 2016 and charged with forgery and grand larceny in what prosecutors called a "systematic and protracted extortion scheme" against Spitzer, a Democrat who was governor of New York from early 2007 to early 2008, when he was forced to resign over a prostitution scandal.

The indictment also accused Zakharova of trying to extort $5,000 from a second man, Paul Nippes, and forging Nippes' signature on a lease.

Zakharova eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of trying to steal from Nippes.

Zakharova says in her court filing seeking to lift the gag order that she has a First Amendment right to "discuss any and all actions or events that she participated in with Spitzer."

She says Spitzer's fetishes involving the use of sex toys and dog leashes are "conduct that he made a conscious choice to engage in."

A spokeswoman for Spitzer, Lisa Linden, said: "These are reprehensible lies from an extortionist. The record in this case and her guilty plea speak for themselves."

Asked whether the court filing itself violates the gag order, Linden said she did not know.

The case was prosecuted by the Bronx district attorney's office after Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance recused himself because of close ties to Spitzer, who also served as state attorney general from 1999 to 2006 and was dubbed the sheriff of Wall Street.

A spokeswoman for Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said the office has not received the court papers.

An attorney for Zakharova did not immediately return a call seeking comment.