Employees of Ministry of Defense Research Institute for protection against biological weapons accused of stealing $31,000

Employees of Ministry of Defense Research Institute for protection against biological weapons accused of stealing $31,000
Photo: Valery Matytsin / TASS

According to investigation, the defendants illegally received extra bonuses during implementation of government contracts.

Employees of the Institute of Microbiology of the Ministry of Defense (48th Central Research Institute), which developed the drug against Ebola virus, were accused of embezzling 20 million rubles ($31,000) on the state contracts, RBC reports. According to investigation, former chief accountant of the Central Research Institute Sergei Lupin, ex-employee of the financial department Irina Borisova, former head of the planning department Sergei Lupin and former employee of the planning department Alexei Yakimov received extra bonuses from the budget funds. The case is being considered at the Solnechnogorsk garrison military court.

The investigation of the theft at the 48th Central Scientific Research Institute was conducted by the FSB of Russia and the military investigation department of the Investigative Committee for the Strategic Missile Forces. Currently, the case is being considered in court.

The Institute of Microbiology of the Ministry of Defense is located in a closed city of Sergiev Posad-6, or, as the locals call it, the Vaccine. The Central Research Institute is the leading developer of protection from biological weapons in Russia. In the 1990s, it was led by Major General and Hero of Russia Alexander Makhlai, who was awarded for creating the medicine against Ebola. Until 2013, the institute was part of the structure of the 33rd Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense, which, after poisoning of Skripal, became known for participation in the development of Novichok. 

The procurement of the institute indicates that the study of the Ebola virus is still being conducted. At the end of 2017, the Research Institute of Medical Primatology conducted a research in this sphere.

On Tuesday, April 16, Vitaly Ustinov, the author of the forensic examination on the basis of which the accusation was based, was questioned in court. He analyzed the financial documents of the institute from 2006 to 2012, and came to a conclusion that the bonuses paid to employees in the implementation of government contracts were unjustified .

According to Ustinov, the bonuses to the employees were to be issued in accordance with the internal documents of the scientific research institute. The institute “distributed awards with no control”. The defense insisted that the conclusions of the expert were biased and unjustified, since Ustinov had studied the primary documents provided by the investigation. According to a representative of an accused, the investigation did not provide all the documents, since “a part of them was destroyed”.

Ustinov, in turn, claimed that the documents were destroyed by the statute of limitations, yet he was provided with protocols of inspections.

According to RBC‘s source close to the investigation, the institute was not serviced by the treasury system, but was financed through a closed military unit. The source also noted that the criminal case against the staff of the Central Research Institute was initiated by employees of the organization.

At the end of the court session, the defense announced its plans to file a petition for a study of the expertise conducted by a non-state structure. Accused Lupin stated that his lawyers appealed to the investigators with a request to conduct a similar examination by the state structures: the Ministry of Justice, the Investigative Committee, the Ministry of Defense, yet their request had been dismissed.

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