MOSCOW, September 13 (RIA Novosti) – A former minister of Russia’s North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan is suspected of spending 3 million rubles ($90,000) of state money to publish a book he wrote, prosecutors said Friday.
Law enforcement officials believe that Bekmurza Bekmurzayev, during his tenure as Dagestan’s minister for national politics, religion and external relations, signed a contract worth 3 million rubles with a publishing house on behalf of the ministry.
Although he claimed the move was in line with the republic’s program of support for religious organizations, prosecutors believe that the contract “was signed with a purpose of republishing the minister’s own work of literature,” the local prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
The Caucasian Knot regional news website said the minister was trying to reissue his five-volume magnum opus, headlined “Contemporary Threats and a World in Search of Security,” for which he received about 870,000 rubles (nearly $27,000) in royalties.
"I don’t want to disclose any names, but it’s a fact that certain high-ranking officials of the republic are set to discredit me, to tarnish my honest name,” the website quoted Bekmurzayev as saying.
“Yes, I received 870,000 rubles in royalties for my book, but only 27,000 of that [$830] is still in my account; the rest was spent to implement contract liabilities undertaken by organizers of an international theological conference held in [Dagestan’s capital] Makhachkala in 2012,” he continued.
The former minister faces charges abuse of office and, if found guilty, a prison term of up to seven years.