MOSCOW, May 18 (RAPSI, Nikita Shiryayev) – Moscow’s Basmanny District Court on Friday ruled to put ex-Deputy Culture Minister Grigory Pirumov, who had been earlier convicted of embezzling public funds allocated for restoration of cultural heritage objects, in detention until July 16 as part of a new embezzlement case opened against him, RAPSI reported from the courtroom.

Investigators asked the court to detain Pirumov charged with stealing 450 million rubles ($7.3 million) allocated for construction of the Hermitage Museum’s facilities as they alleged that he was going to flee to UK. Defense in turn sought to place the former deputy minister under house arrest.

Pirumov pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Two other defendants in the case are businessman Nikita Kolesnikov, who earlier received a 5-year suspended sentence in the so-called case of restorers involving Pirumov, and ex-director of the Culture 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.

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