Family contract in Ministry of Culture embezzlements 

Family contract in Ministry of Culture embezzlements
Head of the Restoration and Construction Department of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation Artem Novikov

It is unknown if the case of Head of the Department of Investment, Restoration and Construction of the Ministry of Culture Artem Novikov is related to the case of his father Mikhail Novikov, the Deputy Director of the Hermitage.⁠

The Investigation Department of the FSB brought a criminal case against Novikov on suspicion of swindling on an especially large scale, Fontanka reports.

The official was detained March 28 right at a meeting, that same day a search was carried out at his home, which resulted in seizing a substance similar to a synthetic drug called salt. So far the detention of Novikov in custody is limited to two days, Kommersant notes. Today the court is to decide a preventive punishment for the Head of the Investment Department of the Ministry of Culture.

Fontanka informs that Novikov was released immediately after the interrogation, while the press service of the Ministry of Culture refuted the detention of Novikov, noting that he will participate in the collegium of the Ministry of Culture on Wednesday.

It also became known that the Lefortovo Court of Moscow put under 2-month house arrest father of Artem Novikov – Deputy Director of the Hermitage Mikhail Novikov – in the case of swindling. It is still unclear whether these cases are related to each other.

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Hermitage Deputy Head on Construction Mikhail Novikov

It is worth noting that the corruption scandal led to Boris Mazo, the former Head of the Property Management and Investment Policy Department of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, being under investigation as well. In this regard it was decided to totally rearrange the department. The issues of control over property, protection of cultural heritage and maintaining the register of monuments have been completely removed from it. After the reorganization the department focused only on construction and restoration, and its Head became Artem Novikov – son of Deputy Director for the construction of the St. Petersburg Hermitage Mikhail Novikov.

The publication highlights that before the career in civil service Artem Novikov worked in Swedish restoration company KPW, and at the age of 30 he headed it. Then he became the Head of the Association of Restorers of Russia.

Being at this post in 2008 Novikov became known as one of the fervent opponents of the privatization of cultural heritage objects, which deprived contractors of budgetary financing.

Artem Novikov came to the Ministry of Culture in 2012. In the Department of Investments, Restoration and Construction of the Ministry of Culture, headed by Mazo, Artem Novikov was engaged in the distribution of financial flows. After Mazo's arrest, he became acting Head of the Department, and after the reorganization became the director.

Earlier, the FSB Office of Investigations completed the investigation of a high-profile case on the theft of public funds for the restoration of cultural heritage sites. It involves 8 people. They are accused of embezzling about 200 million rubles ($3.5m) in the restoration of a number of cultural sites, including the Izborsk fortress in the Pskov region.

According to the investigation, the orchestrator of the criminal community was former Deputy Minister of Culture Grigory Pirumov. Fontanka supposes that the detention of Artem Novikov is directly related to the Restorers' case and St. Petersburg contractor BaltStroy, on the contrary, the source of TASS agency does not see it this way.

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