Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nuclear Ministry Denies Foul Play

Unknown
The Nuclear Power Ministry on Monday denied corruption allegations leveled against the head of the agency, Yevgeny Adamov, by the State Duma's anti-corruption commission.

The report — a copy of which was obtained by The Moscow Times on Monday from the Duma, where it was distributed among deputies Friday — said that Adamov illegally continued to engage in business activities after becoming minister in March 1998, and used his post to appoint business associates to key positions.

"Let the Prosecutor General's Office and the Audit Chamber sort it out," Nuclear Power Ministry spokesman Yury Bespalko said Monday in response to the report, which recommended that law enforcement agencies open a formal investigation into the charges against Adamov.

"They have been here many times and did not find anything wrong. As soon as Adamov was appointed minister, he immediately put all his securities in trust, and has not been involved in business any more. He is not an idiot and he knows that a state official is not allowed to engage in business activities," Bespalko said in a telephone interview.

According to the report, Adamov set up a number of private companies while he headed a leading secret nuclear research facility called NIKIET from 1986 to 1998, and continued to benefit from the companies while serving as minister.

During his tenure as minister, the report said, Adamov also appointed people with little or no experience in the nuclear industry to key positions in the ministry, and concentrated the ministry's foreign trade accounts, first, in the hands of the ministry-affiliated bank Konversbank and then with MDM-Bank, associated with Kremlin insiders Alexander Mamut and Roman Abramovich.

Yury Shchekochikhin, a Duma deputy who is a member of the anti-corruption commission and a reporter with the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, said Monday that the commission's investigation had nothing to do with any political maneuvers targeting the Nuclear Power Ministry. The paper has spearheaded its own investigation into Adamov and last year published allegations like those in the Duma report, which the minister also denied.

"It was a Novaya Gazeta project," Shchekochikhin said. "Deputies requested an investigation after they read the Novaya Gazeta article, and it is not connected with any political struggle."

Shchekochikhin said the investigation had been on the agenda of the previous Duma's anti-corruption commission, of which he was also a member. Last year, the probe got the backing of Nikolai Kovalyov, the Fatherland faction deputy and former head of the Federal Security Service, who now heads the commission.

The Moscow press has been surprisingly indifferent toward the investigation.

Other than the Segodnya daily, which reported the commission's findings Saturday, Novaya Gazeta was the only media outlet to cover the story this week. The paper ended its article with an invitation to Adamov to respond to the allegations in its next issue. Shchekochikhin said that Novaya Gazeta reporter Roman Shleinov assisted the Duma commission in its investigation.

The press service of the Prosecutor General 's Office could not be reached for comment Monday.

The report obtained from the Duma is the same as the text posted Friday on the web site of the Russian branch of the Greenpeace environmental organization (www.greenpeace.ru).

The Nuclear Power Ministry's Bespalko denied speculation by Greenpeace that the commission's report led to the postponement of the Duma's second reading of a controversial bill allowing the import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia. He said the vote has been rescheduled for late March and the ministry remained confident that the Duma will pass the bill. Bespalko said, however, that the anti-corruption commission's report may complicate the bill's passage.

Ana Uzelac contributed to this report.