Investigative Committee suspends case of embezzlement during Izborsk fortress renovation due to lack of suspects

Investigative Committee suspends case of embezzlement during Izborsk fortress renovation due to lack of suspects
Izborsk fortress Photo: Vladimir Ryabchikov / TASS

Investigation into the 100-million-ruble ($1.6m) theft was carried out for a year and a half.

The Investigative Committee Directorate in the Pskov region has suspended the case of embezzlement of 99.3 million rubles during the renovation of the medieval fortress in Izborsk, RBC reports citing a source familiar with the course of investigation.

The renovation work was performed by Baltstroy company, part of businessman Dmitry Mikhalchenko’s Forum Holding (notably, Mikhalchenko is accused of smuggling). In addition, Baltstroy is mentioned in several criminal cases of embezzlement in construction and renovation.

The embezzlement during the work at Izborsk fortress had been mentioned in the case against former Deputy Head of the Ministry of Culture Grigory Pirumov and his subordinates. However, it was not mentioned in the indictment and verdict announced in the Dorogomilovsky Court of Moscow. There is a separate investigation into this episode. It has been conducted for a year and a half; no suspects and defendants have appeared in this case over the time, the publication’s sources note.

The case under part 4 of Art. 159 of the Russian Criminal Code (Swindling) over the embezzlement of almost 100 thousand rubles in the renovation of Izborsk fortress was initiated on March 3, 2016. According to the investigation, unidentified Baltstroy employees drew up completion certificates about work in the fortress from June to November 2012, which included inaccurate information about the quality, volume, and duration of work. The inspection found that out of 294.4 million rubles ($5 million) paid by the Ministry of Culture under the contract, 88.5 million ($1.5 million) accounted for uncompleted work, 7 million ($119 thousand) for redundant work, and 5.9 million ($100 thousand) for duplicated work. 

March 31, 2016, the amount of damage was seized on the company’s account. It was extended at least until February 2017. At present, it is not known whether funds are still seized.

Director General of Baltstroy Dmitry Sergeev, the сompany’s аdministrator Aleksandr Kochenov, and a number of employees of the Ministry of Culture Department of Property Relations and Investments were questioned as part of the investigation. However, there was no new defendants in the case. The investigation was suspended about three months ago.

According to lawyer Timofey Tsagolov, who protects the interests of Aleksandr Kochenov, the reason for the investigation suspension could have been the absence of a causal relationship between the actions of specific Baltstroy employees and the damage inflicted.

Lawyer of the ex-Deputy Minister of Culture Grigory Pirumov Fedor Kupriyanov notes that several companies are usually involved in renovation work. The case could have been suspended due to the fact that it is not clear who was responsible for what, Kupriyanov believes. According to the Criminal Procedure Code, the absence of a defendant may be the reason for suspending. Another possible cause mentioned by Kupriyanov is the fact the examination has not confirmed the embezzlement.

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