WASHINGTON, April 25 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian government should not interfere with the investigation into a senior manager of the Skolkovo Foundation, accused of embezzling $750,000 in state funds and paying the money to an opposition lawmaker, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov said on Wednesday.
“There are a series of actions under way that, as you see, are going on across the country and impact major projects involving state funds,” Surkov said following a meeting here on Wednesday of the innovation working group under the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission.
“I don’t think it is the government’s place to give any sort of order,” Surkov said. “There are different responsibilities. The authorities are doing their job, and we’re doing ours.”
Surkov, once a key ideologist and political mastermind for the Kremlin, made the comments on Wednesday following a meeting between officials and executives from the United States and Russia under the auspices of the innovation working group.
Russian investigators last week opened a criminal case against the Skolkovo Foundation’s vice president, Alexei Beltyukov, on suspicion he misappropriated $750,000 of foundation money to pay opposition-minded State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomaryov, who supported last year’s anti-Kremlin protests, between February 2011 and February 2012, allegedly for a series of lectures and research projects.
The case is the latest of several targeting Skolkovo executives.
The Skolkovo Foundation which manages the eponymous high-tech hub, is a pet project of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and was opened during his presidency in 2010. It is often called Russia’s “Silicon Valley” and was intended to lead the country’s drive to diversify and modernize its economy and increase the output of high-tech products.
The foundation’s president, billionaire Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg, was among the dozens of US and Russian entrepreneurs and officials taking part in innovation working group meetings.
(Updated at 10:40 a.m. with new headline and lead)