MOSCOW, May 15 (RIA Novosti) – The president of Russia’s Skolkovo Foundation, billionaire businessman Viktor Vekselberg, denied on Wednesday earlier allegations that the foundation funded the political opposition.
Russian investigators opened a criminal case last month against Alexei Beltyukov, the foundation’s vice president, over suspicions he illegally paid $750,000 to opposition lawmaker Ilya Ponomaryov, ostensibly for a series of lectures and research projects.
“No, [Skolkovo] is in no way involved,” Vekselberg said at a news conference.
Both Ponomaryov and Beltyukov have denied any wrongdoing. Beltyukov was suspended from his post earlier this month.
Vekselberg also said that Andrei Fursenko, a Russian presidential aide and former education minister, will be overseeing the foundation’s activities on behalf of the government instead of former Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov, who resigned on May 8.
The foundation’s president declined to comment on a criminal case in progress against several senior Skolkovo executives, saying he would discuss the issue “after the investigation is over.”
Criminal investigations were opened into two senior Skolkovo executives in February over the alleged embezzlement of $800,000.
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.
Often called Russia’s “Silicon Valley,” it was intended to lead the country’s drive to diversify and modernize the economy and increase the output of high-tech products.