ST. PETERSBURG, April 27 (RAPSI, Mikhail Telekhov) - A new case against ex-Deputy Culture Minister Grigory Pirumov over the 800 million-ruble embezzlement allocated for restoration of the Hermitage Museum has been transferred from St. Petersburg to Moscow, the United press service of St. Petersburg courts has told RAPSI.

The Kuibyshevsky District Court of St. Petersburg, where investigators had sent the case, changed its jurisdiction and forwarded it to the Nikulinsky District Court of Moscow.

Pirumov and head of Rospan company Nikita Kolesnikov are charged with creating an organized criminal group to steal budget funds on a large scale using their job position. The gang, according to the charges, included financial director and senior engineer of the company Horizont Yulia Begeza and Valery Rogov, chairman of the Oil Alliance bank’s board Oleg Grigor. They also face trial.

One more defendant, ex-director of the Culture Ministry’s department of property management and investment policy Boris Mazo, fled abroad. He was put on the international wanted list and later arrested in Austria. A court in Vienne in February granted his extradition to Russia. However, Spain also seeks for his extradition.

According to case papers, in 2015, the Hermitage Museum and MechStroyTrans company controlled by the defendants signed a contract for construction amd reconstruction of the museum’s facilities.

During the execution of the contract, alleged accomplices stole more than 900 million rubles allocated from the budget for these works. Using various financial operations and transactions the defendants legalized 800 million rubles of the embezzled money, according to the courts’ press service.

The accused persons plead not guilty.

Other cases

The Moscow City Court has repeatedly extended house arrest of Pirumov for 3 months as part of a 450-million-ruble (about $7 million) embezzlement case.

Investigators believe that Pirumov, Kolesnikov, Mazo and their accomplices have stolen at least 450 million rubles (about $7 million) allocated for the construction of the Hermitage Museum’s buildings. The defendants have pleaded not guilty.

In the first case against Pirumov, the Dorogomilovsky District Court of Moscow found him guilty of stealing more than 100 million rubles and sentenced the former culture official to 1.5 years in a penal colony in October 2017. The court took into consideration the time Pirumov spent in detention and freed him in the courtroom. Prosecutors repeatedly appealed against the sentence. In December, the Moscow City Court imposed a 1-million-ruble (about $15,000) on ex-official and deprived him of the second-class medal of the Order of Merit for the Motherland. In January, his punishment was toughened up to 3 years behind bars.

Investigators claimed that between 2012 and 2016 Pirumov, currently wanted ex-director of the Culture Ministry’s department of property management and investment policy Boris Mazo and several other defendants embezzled over 160 million rubles ($2.4 million) allocated on restoration of the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow, Ivanovsky Convent in Moscow and other objects across Russia.

On August 8, 2019, Moscow’s Preobrazhensky District Court granted parole to Pirumov as part of this case.