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    AUDIT CHAMBER REVEALS MAJOR ABUSES OF FEDERAL FUNDS ALLOCATED FOR CHECHNYA'S RECONSTRUCTION

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    MOSCOW, March 19, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - More than 5 billion of a total of 62 billion rubles the central government has allocated for Chechnya's reconstruction since 2000, have been spent with grave violations of Russian law, Sergei Ryabukhin, an auditor at the Russian Audit Chamber, said at press conference on Friday.

    Audit Chamber experts have to clear things out with Anatoly Popov, the ex-head of the Chechen government. "Violations go back to the time period when Mr Popov was heading the directorate for Chechnya's rebuilding and the government," said Mr Ryabukhin.

    Over 1 billion rubles of federal funds were paid for the work and services, which had been provided in violation of tender arrangements, according to the auditor. Another billion rubles were paid for services provided without any tender whatsoever, which caused a sharp rise in the prices of these services, said Mr Ryabukhin. And it is unclear how 69 million rubles were spent, added the expert.

    Relative data have already been handed over to Chechnya's Prosecutor's Office, said Mr Ryabukhin. Criminal investigation has been opened.

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