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Investigators bring new charges against Russia’s ex-deputy education minister

Source: MVD Media

Investigators from Moscow’s Interior Ministry office brought new charges for large-scale fraud against former deputy education minister Marina Rakova and Evgeny Zak, the former deputy director of the ministry’s Foundation for New Forms of Education Development (FNFRO).

According to MVD Media, officials claim that in 2018, Rakova and Zak entered into a contract with the director of RANEPA’s Institute for Social Sciences, Sergey Zuyev, and fictitiously employed 12 Education Ministry employees as part-time research assistants at the institute. 

Allegedly, these 12 staff members didn’t actually complete any work, but nevertheless collected salaries from the Institute for Social Sciences from 2018 to 2020. This scheme cost RANEPA more than 20 million rubles ($272,000) in damages, Interior Ministry officials estimate.

In addition to serving as director of RANEPA’s Institute for Social Sciences, Sergey Zuyev is also the rector of the liberal Moscow School for the Social and Economic Sciences (Shaninka). 

Sergey Zuyev, Marina Rakova, and Evgeny Zak are all in pre-trial custody as suspects in an embezzlement case launched in late September. According to the investigation, Shaninka received state funding to fulfill two government contracts without ever completing the work. Officials say Rakova used her position in the Education Ministry to lobby for this allocation of public money. 

Zuyev’s lawyer Ruslan Kozhura told Meduza that no additional charges were brought against his client in connection with the alleged employment scheme at the Institute for Social Sciences.

“The criminal case for large-scale fraud was assigned as a separate proceeding from the criminal case launched against Marina Rakova, Sergey Zuyev, and other individuals. Potential accomplices and additional episodes of illegal activity are currently being identified.”

MVD Media

On November 17, Moscow law enforcement raided the offices of two RANEPA administrators: financial director Alexander Efremov and Vice President Vladimir Fedotov. The searches were conducted as part of a felony investigation into the alleged fictitious employment of Education Ministry staff at the university. A source told the state news agency TASS that the raids were connected to the embezzlement case against Marina Rakova and Sergey Zuyev. 

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