MOSCOW, August 1 (RAPSI) – The Moscow City Court has upheld extension of detention for ex-Deputy Culture Minister Grigory Pirumov, who stands charged with embezzling funds allocated for the construction of the Hermitage Museum’s facilities, the court’s press service has told RAPSI.

The court also upheld a ruling to extend detention of another defendant, businessman Nikita Kolesnikov.

Earlier, Moscow’s Basmanny District Court extended their detention until October 16.

According to investigators, Pirumov, Kolesnikov and ex-director of the Culture Ministry’s department of property management and investment policy Boris Mazo, who was arrested in absentia, had stolen 450 million rubles ($7.3 million) allocated for construction of the Hermitage Museum’s facilities. 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. Kolesnikov received a 5-year suspended sentence in this case.

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 is to be heard on June 21.

Investigators claimed that between 2012 and 2016 the defendants stole 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.