Marina Lukashevich, deputy head of the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education, and Mikhail Popov, head of the Rossotrudnichestvo department, were detained by investigators of the Moscow police on suspicion of especially large-scale fraud. According to investigators, they were involved in the theft of 40 million budget rubles in 2016 under a contract for the automatic processing of scientific data for the needs of the then Ministry of Education and Science. Later, the paths of the alleged accomplices diverged, but traces of the alleged thefts were recently identified by police officers. The prosecution intends to insist on the placement of both high-ranking officials in the pre-trial detention center for the duration of the investigation. However, so far this question has been postponed.
According to Kommersant in the Russian Interior Ministry, the reason for starting the investigation was a check conducted by operatives of the Department of Economic Security and Anti-Corruption (UEBiPK) of the Moscow police headquarters. Sishchik was interested in the contract concluded in 2016 between the Ministry of Education and Science (in 2018 it was divided into the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education) and a certain commercial structure.
According to some reports, the terms of reference dealt with the development of an automatic system for processing various scientific data received by the department. A certain company, headed by Marina Lukashevich, undertook to fulfill the contract.
It should be noted that the native Muscovite was not a stranger to the Ministry of Education and Science. After graduating from the Law Faculty of the Institute of Economics and Law, from 1998 to 2014 she worked steadily in the legal service of the ministry, successively going up the career ladder from the post of chief specialist to the director of the department. According to her official biography, since 2014, Mrs. Lukashevich has not worked in the ministry, she was an “adviser, expert, consultant to a number of higher educational institutions (MIPT, MIREA, HSE and others), the Association of Leading Universities, the Federal Institute for Educational Development, and the Moscow Center for Educational right ”, which, as the police found out, also did not prevent her from doing business in parallel. According to the investigation, having received budgetary funds, the ex-official and businesswoman attracted some individual entrepreneurs “under her control” to work, although in general her plans supposedly did not include the actual completion of development in the planned volumes.
Meanwhile, the results, which, according to detectives, clearly did not meet the stated criteria, were approved by a former colleague of Mrs. Lukashevich for work in the Ministry of Education and Science – Director of the Department of Program Management and Competition Procedures Mikhail Popov.
He carried out the acceptance of the work by signing the relevant documents. “The results obviously did not meet the terms of the contracts, and thus the agency suffered damage in the amount of more than 40 million rubles,” a source close to the investigation told Kommersant. It should be noted that subsequently the paths of alleged accomplices diverged. In July 2018, after the division of the Ministry of Education and Science into two independent ministries, by the order of the then Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Marina Lukashevich was appointed Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education – State Secretary. Meanwhile, Mikhail Popov went to work in Rossotrudnichestvo, where he took the post of head of the department for the implementation of projects in the field of education and science.
Despite the high positions of the defendants, investigators of the Main Directorate of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Moscow, according to the official representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Irina Volk, opened a criminal case on fraud on an especially large scale based on materials from the UEBiPK operatives (part 4 of article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Marina Lukashevich and Mikhail Popov were detained, and about 30 searches were carried out at their places of residence and in their offices. The Ministry of Internal Affairs almost immediately explained that the investigators intend to appeal to the Tverskoy court of Moscow with a request for the arrest of both suspects – an official charge has not yet been filed. Hearings in court could take place as early as Friday evening, however, according to Kommersant’s information, then the investigators of the GSU decided to take a short time out for 72 hours in order to better prepare for the meeting on Monday and collect additional materials testifying as the most perfect crime, and the role of detained officials in it.
The position of the alleged budget thieves themselves is not yet known. However, it is obvious that their defense will ask that the defendants in the high-profile investigation be left free, albeit under house arrest.
Moreover, they will obviously refer to the positive characteristics of officials and their merits, which Mrs. Lukashevich has an order of magnitude more. A 45-year-old woman with a spotless biography has thanks from the president and the Ministry of Education and Science, a memorial sign of the already abolished FSKN “For Merit” and a number of diplomas. In addition, the current deputy minister, who is on the second line on the official website of the ministry after being appointed six months ago to the post of head of Valery Falkov, is also a candidate of economic and legal sciences. She defended her last degree in 2008 on the topic “Evolution of the Form of the Russian State: Historical and Legal Analysis”.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs emphasizes that the criminal investigation is ongoing. It is possible that new defendants will appear in it. First of all, naturally, it will be about ordinary contract executors, their degree of awareness, involvement in the alleged theft of 40 million rubles, as well as their testimonies. In addition, a lot will depend on the results of examinations, which should confirm or refute suspicions that the work performed and accepted does not correspond to the technical aspects described in the contracts.