MOSCOW, April 30 (RAPSI) – A criminal case has been opened against Russian lawmaker and opposition activist Ilya Ponomaryov who was stripped of his legislative immunity over alleged embezzlement at state-owned innovation hub Skolkovo, Interfax reported on Thursday, citing a source familiar with the situation.
On April 7, the lower house of parliament voted to strip Ponomaryov of diplomatic immunity and to approve the initiation of criminal proceedings against him.
Investigators claim that Ponomaryov assisted former Skolkovo Vice President Alexei Beltyukov in the embezzlement of over 22 million rubles ($425,500) of the foundation’s money.
According to investigators, Beltyukov paid Ponomaryov $750,000 of the foundation’s money, without management approval, for lectures and research projects between February 2011 and February 2012.
An investigation was launched into Beltyukov’s actions to analyze the subject, the content and the academic value of the lectures that Ponomaryov was contracted to provide for $300,000.Ponomaryov has pleaded not guilty. He claims the investigators’ accusations are politically motivated.
In August 2013, Moscow’s Gagarinsky District Court ruled that Ponomaryov must pay 2.7 million rubles ($52,200) to the Skolkovo Foundation, Russia’s high-tech development center, for an unreasonably overpriced service. The Moscow City Court upheld the ruling in November.Investigative Committee spokesperson Vladimir Markin said the investigation of Beltyukov’s case was ongoing.