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TIRASPOL, November 8 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia will continue to render humanitarian and financial aid to Transdniestria, unrecognized republic parliament speaker, leader of the Renovation Party Anatoly Kaminsky said on Tuesday.
He summed up results of a Moscow visit he paid in the end of last week to meet with Assistant to Russia’s First Vice-Premier Gennady Bukayev.
“He gave affirmative answers to my questions, primarily about the continuation of the current humanitarian projects in Transdniestria: humanitarian aid to Transdniestrian pensioners in the form of monthly pension bonuses and loans to small and medium business, including farmers. Such assistance is extremely important for the people,” Kaminsky said.
He said they also discussed the Transdniestrian parliament’s initiative of a new humanitarian project, Young Family, which might start next year to grant low-interest loans to young professionals for promoting their work in the countryside. The possibility of Russian investments in Transdniestrian processing industries was also on the agenda, Kaminsky said.
Russia started giving financial aid to Transdniestria in 2007. Some funds were given to more than 137,000 pensioners as monthly bonuses and some were assigned in support of farmers. The money also helped improve the quality of catering at children’s and obstetrics clinics, orphanages and schools.
Moscow suspended assistance to Transdniestria last year as the misuse of funds had been exposed. The Russian Investigation Committee said that about 160 million rubles worth of humanitarian aid had been embezzled. Transdniestria’s Gazprombank controlled by the son and daughter-in-law of Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov is suspected of the embezzlement. The Committee did not rule out that Oleg Smirnov and his suspected accomplice might be forced to appear for questioning.
On October 28 the Committee summoned for questioning two Transdniestrian bankers suspected of the embezzlement of 160 million rubles worth of Russian humanitarian aid to Transdniestria, Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass.
“Oleg Smirnov and Oleg Brizitsky have been summoned for questioning as suspects,” he said.
“As far as we know, Oleg Smirnov is registered in Moscow and has Russian naturalization. He is suspected of buying several apartments in Moscow and a cottage in an elite compound in the Odintsovo district of the Moscow region with the money stolen from Russia. Smirnov is the founder of several commercial companies in Moscow, and detectives will verify them for compliance with Russian tax laws,” Markin said.
“The Main Investigative Department of the Russian Investigation Committee has brought criminal charges against Transdniestrian Republican Bank Deputy CEO Oleg Brizitsky, Oleg Smirnov and some other individuals suspected of a group conspiracy to embezzle large funds [paragraph 4 of article 160 of the Russian Criminal Code],” Markin told Itar-Tass.
“According to the detectives, Brizitsky conspired with Smirnov and a number of other individuals and embezzled funds assigned by the Russian Federation to the Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic as humanitarian aid for paying bonuses to pensioners and supporting farmers from November 2008 through November 2009. Their illegal actions caused property damage of about 160 million rubles to the Russian Federation,” he said.
“Investigative procedures are taking place to expose details of the crime,” he said.
If found guilty, the suspects may be sentenced up to ten years with a possible fine of up to one million rubles or their three-year income.
The Transdniestrian parliament asked the State Duma in October 2007 to consider assistance to the drought-stricken region. It was decided to grant humanitarian aid of 640 million rubles ($27.2 million) within the program of support to fellow citizens residing abroad. The first trance of 110 million rubles was transferred to Transdniestria in December and the money was spent on extras to pensioners and on catering at educational and healthcare establishments. The second tranche of humanitarian aid, about $9 million, was transferred to a special account at the Transdniestrian Republican Bank in March to support farmers affected by the severest drought conditions of the past half a century. Russia was giving assistance to people in Transdniestria for three years. Last March the republic received a new tranche of 210.7 million rubles.
According to media reports, Oleg Smirnov headed the Transdniestrian Patriotic Party in 2006, he became the chair of the Social Patriotic Bloc in 2009 and headed the Patriots of Transdniestria movement in 2010. The movement was formed in the merger of the Patriotic and Republican Parties. The media said that Oleg Smirnov quitted politics and moved to Moscow together with his wife. Back in 2003 he was put on the EU blacklist and barred from visits to EU member countries.