Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Deputy PM Wrangles with Investigators over Skolkovo

Alexei Beltyukov, a senior vice president at the Skolkovo Foundation, has been suspended, and oppositionist State Duma Deputy Ilya Ponomaryov is being questioned, over a criminal probe into fraud at the innovation hub. The developments came amid a war of words that broke out over the investigation between Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov and Investigative Committee spokesperson General Vladimir Markin. During a speech before students in London, Surkov warned the Investigative Committee against haste judgments. “The energy with which the Investigative Committee is publishing its assumptions evokes the sense that a crime has been committed,” Surkov said. “But that’s just the energy of the Investigative Committee. Let them prove that these people are guilty of something; we have yet to see whether they prove it or not.” Markin responded with an article titled "When Looking From London, Don't Lay the Blame at Someone Else's Door," full of ironic and sharp barbs addressed to Surkov. "It is a trend now to be a political prisoner, it guarantees you the attention of the BBC and support from Amnesty International," Markin wrote. Calling Surkov one of the "curators of [Skolkovo's] especially effective managers" and his criticism "arias of a Moscow guest in London," Markin said that seeking such international support was the only reason why Surkov had expressed his dissatisfaction in London — "in front of the target audience." Opposition leader Alexei Navalny wrote on his blog that the expressions used in the article by Markin  were usually reserved for the committee's accusations against opposition activists. When asked about Markin's article by reporters on Tuesday, Surkov said he would not "comment on graphomania." However, an unnamed government source speaking to ITAR-TASS news agency expressed "surprise" as to the tone of Markin's article.  The source went on to add that, according to the information from the General Prosecutor's office, General Markin's higher education diploma was forged. (video)

UPDATE: Surkov resigns

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