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Suspect Arrested in $1.65M Hermitage Museum Embezzlement

Published: January 15, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • The management of the Hermitage Museum denied any involvement in the embezzlement of funds for its renovations.
    Photo: George Shuklin

Police have arrested a Moscow businessman accused of helping to embezzle over 55 million rubles ($1.65 million) during the renovation of Russia’s most famous museum, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

Arkady Akhmechet has been charged with large-scale fraud, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s website. The crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison under Russian law.

Police said Akhmechet oversaw financial operations at construction firms that stole money after being contracted to restore buildings belonging to the Hermitage Museum Complex between 2010 and 2013.

Akhmechet is the second suspect named by police in the embezzlement scheme, uncovered by Russia’s Audit Chamber in July.

The Interior Ministry said Lenoid Tamarov, the director of a contracting firm involved in the restoration, fled Russia after the start of police investigations but died in Israel in September under unclear circumstances.

Russia is working with Interpol to establish the context of Tamarov’s death, the ministry statement said.

An investigation into the embezzlement scheme was opened in September after Russia’s Audit Chamber said it had found violations in a contract worth 6.2 billion rubles ($190 million) to reconstruct the General Staff building in the Hermitage complex.

Police said the contractors, who agreed to construct glass ceilings over five courtyards on the complex grounds and equip them with anti-icing and snow removal systems, stole money by creating so-called double contracts that falsely billed money from firms that did not actually perform the work.

The management of the Hermitage Museum denied any involvement, saying it was only a client and was not involved in any financial aspect of the renovation.

Police said in September that a group of individuals were under investigation for their involvement in the case, though they have not yet publicly identified any additional suspects.

See also:

Costs Swell to $450M For Hermitage Museum Annex

Hermitage Makes Room for Manifesta





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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