ST. PETERSBURG, September 18 (RAPSI, Mikhail Telekhov) - The former vice-governor of St. Petersburg Marat Oganesyan pled not guilty in court on Wednesday to bribery and embezzlement of funds allocated for the construction of the city’s Arena football stadium, RAPSI reported from the courtroom.

Oganesyan said that his case was made to order. It was opened when problems began at the stadium’s construction, and the city’s administration gave a runaround and reported to police. According to the defendant, initially he concluded a plea deal with investigators, but later charges against him were changed.

The trial will be held in the Kuybyshev District Court of St. Petersburg.

Along with Oganesyan there are 8 more defendants. They are ex-CEO of the Aleksandrinsky Theatre Grigory Popov, ex-first deputy chair of the St. Petersburg Construction Committee Alexander Yanchik, CEO of Scenic Workshops company Vladimir Khalif and his employees Yelena Kovaleva and Artem Kuspits, head of StroyElectroMontazh–5 (SEM-5) firm Vasily Slivkin, his son Kirill and chief economist of the company Nicolay Khripunov.

According to case files, the Investigative Committee’s Main Investigation Department in collaboration with the Federal Security Service (FSB) and police established the fact of embezzlement of funds in the amount of more than 50 million rubles (about $800,000) when the general contractor Transstroy and Scenic Workshops company entered into a contract on supply of a video board of a football stadium in 2014. Oganesyan was responsible for the construction of the stadium.

Investigators claim that Oganesyan ensured illegal involvement of Scenic Workshops as a subcontractor and transferred from the city budget a prepaid expense of more than 50 million rubles to the enterprise. Later, the money was subsequently stolen through sham firms.

According to a prosecutor, Oganesyan and Yanchik received a bribe from Popov through the medition of Khalif, Kovaleva and Kuspits.

Thus, the prosecutor said in court, Oganesyan received 25.5 million rubles, Yanchik 2.5 million rubles. Popov, Khalif, Kovaleva and Kuspits allegedly divided another 22 million rubles.

Vasily Slivkin, the director of StroyElektroMontazh-5, a company that participated in the construction of the St. Petersburg Arena football stadium, is also involved in the case. He is charged with giving Oganesyan 20 million rubles as ensuring a contract for installing illumination and outdoor highlighting of the stadium through his son.