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Russian culture minister says he won't turn his back on subordinates before court verdict

April 27, 9:18 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Several of the culture minister's subordinates have been arrested on suspicion of embezzlement
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Vladimir Medinsky

Vladimir Medinsky

© Ruslan Shamukov/TASS

MOSCOW, April 27. /TASS/. Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said in an interview with TASS on Wednesday that he sees no chance to turn his back on his subordinates before a verdict has been pronounced.

Boris Tsagarayev, the head of the Russian Culture Ministry’s construction, reconstruction and restoration directorate, and Vladimir Svanbek, the head of the Stroykomplekt project and Baltstroy employee, were arrested for two months in April by Moscow’s Lefortovsky court on suspicion of embezzling funds allocated for restoration of Russia’s tangible cultural heritage. Investigators think that Deputy Culture Minister Grigory Pirumov arrested in March is behind the embezzlement. Pirumov says he is not guilty.

"I see no chance for me to turn my back on my subordinates before a verdict has been pronounced," Medinsky said adding that "doing otherwise would be not very manly, to say the least."

He said the Culture Ministry launched a series of checks and inspections "although we always kept an eye on the operation of the department of property management and investment policy from the standpoint of pricing and discounts awarded in this or that contest." "The construction department has not revised its restoration work price lists for four years. According to our findings they are the nation’s lowest. Last year, the average discount off the bid price is 15%, and for some sites it is as high as 24%," Medinsky said reminding that "in 2011 the discount was just one percent of the experts’ appraisal."

"The question was put to the vote openly. The board meeting made a decision and the decision is to be honored. We handed the petition over to the lawyers. Everything else is their realm of responsibility," the minister said.

A request was voiced at the Culture Ministry’s board meeting to ease restrictive measures taken towards the accused and release them from the detention center until trial. Medinsky noted that "it is very good that the federal security service FSB is in charge of the investigation." "That’s an elite law enforcement agency. I do hope that the high level of professionalism will let them sort things out calmly and impartially," he concluded.

The full text of the interview

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