Aristarkhov brothers - conflict of interest and abuse of office

Aristarkhov brothers - conflict of interest and abuse of office
Vladimir Aristarkhov and Andrey Aristarkhov Photo: Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

An investigation has been initiated against Deputy Minister of Culture Vladimir Aristarkhov into possible abuse of power and spread of libel. His brother Andrey Aristarkhov resigned from Restavratsionniye Kompanii after suspicions of conflict of interest.

A pre-investigation check has been initiated against Deputy Minister of Culture Vladimir Aristarkhov on the fact of his possible abuse of office and seditious libel. According to Kommersant, the case features the building of the Popov Academy of Choral Art, located on the Bolshaya Gruzinskaya Street in Moscow. Back in 2008, under a contract of gratuitous rent, more than 1 thousand sq. m. m were transferred to the Charitable Foundation for Support and Development of Musical Education. Later, the Ministry of Culture decided to reclaim the provided space and started organizing regular inspections of the fund, which failed to find any violations. State Duma member Alexander Ageyev sent a request to the Investigative Committee, which indicated that the inspectors had not hid that they had been interested in the eviction of tenants. Since 2013, various commissions have visited the charity fund 17 times.

In 2015, the Ministry of Culture decided that the whole edifice of the academy should pass to the Cultural and Historical Monuments Management Agency (CHMMA). In February 2016, Deputy Minister of Culture Vladimir Aristarkhov, who is also in charge of the issue of space in the building on the Bolshaya Gruzinskaya, convened a meeting with the leadership of the academy. Aristarkhov explicitly stated that they had found no flaws, hence the ministry would put pressure on the tenants until they leave. "The state has lots of ways to make life unbearable for such a right holder... And we’re going to do this, even if it takes a few years," - Deputy Minister of Culture said.

Lawmaker Ageyev sent a recording with Aristarkhov’s voice to the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee in Moscow, which led to an inspection. He believes that the deputy minister could violate articles "abuse of power" and "libel." In return, the Ministry of Culture said that the agency is the owner of real estate of the subordinate institutions, so it has the right to redistribute unused property or property used not for its intended purpose, in agreement with the Federal Property Management Agency.

At the same time, the brother of Deputy Culture Minister Andrey Aristarkhov resigned from the post of director general of Restavratsionniye Kompanii, RBC reported. This happened after State Duma members Sergey Obukhov and Valery Rashkin sent letters to the Investigative Committe, Prosecutor General's Office and the Federal Security Service with a request to check the work of the First Deputy Minister of Culture Vladimir Aristarkhov and his brother Andrey Aristarkhov for possible conflict of interest. In the period from fall 2014 to March 2016, Restavratsionniye Kompanii, led by Andrey Aristarkhov won the restoration tenders set by the Ministry of Culture in the amount of 1.2 billion rubles.

Deputy Minister of Culture Nikolay Malakov was responsible for the construction and property sphere of the ministry, but during holidays or illness, the relevant documents were signed by Vladimir Aristarkhov.

In addition, Andrey Aristarkhov, being director general of Restovratsionniye Kompanii, was planning to merge four state restoration organizations – Resma, Spetsrestavratsiya, Tsentrrestavratsiya, and Interregional Scientific and Artistic Restoration Agency. Now, these plans have been shuttered.

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