MOSCOW, May 17 (RAPSI) - Ex-Deputy Culture Minister Grigory Pirumov, who had been earlier found guilty of embezzling public funds allocated for restoration of cultural heritage objects, was arrested on suspicion of a 450-million-ruble ($7.3 million)  embezzlement, the Investigative Committee’s press service reports Thursday.

Businessman Nikita Kolesnikov, who received a 5-year suspended sentence in the so-called case of restorers, has been arrested along with Pirumov. One more defendant in this case is ex-director of the Ministry’s department of property management and investment policy Boris Mazo.

According to investigators, they have stolen money allocated for construction of the Hermitage Museum’s buildings. Suspects have organized conclusion of a state contract without intent to execute it. Funds received as a down payment were transferred to firms under their control, investigators claimed.

Searches were conducted at the places of defendants’ residence, the statement reads.

In October 2017, the Dorogomilovsky District Court of Moscow sentenced Pirumov to 1.5 years in a penal colony. The court took into consideration the time Pirumov spent in detention and freed him in the courtroom.

On December 19, the Moscow City Court toughened punishment for Pirumov. The court imposed a 1-million-ruble fine ($17,000) on ex-official and deprived him of the second-class medal of the Order of Merit for the Motherland. However, prosecutors again filed an appeal against Pirumov’s sentence demanding a 5-year prison term for him. The appeal has been set for May 25.

As part of the case for other defendants including Mazo, received prison sentence from 1 to 1.5 years and were released as Pirumov.

Three more defendants, BaltStroy manager Alexander Kochenov, businessman Andrey Kokushkin and ex-director of the State Center of Contemporary Art Mikhail Mindlin, received suspended sentence ranging from 1 year to 1 year and 5 months.

Investigators claimed that between 2012 and 2016 the defendants embezzled over 160 million rubles allocated on restoration of the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow, Ivanovsky Convent in Moscow and other objects across Russia.

In December 2016, Dmitry Medvedev, the Chairman of the Russian Government, relieved Pirumov of his post.