Deputy Minister of Culture Grigory Pirumov, who recently confessed to several episodes of theft during the restoration of cultural objects, has received a new cause for concern. The investigation suspected him, Director of the Property Management Department of the Ministry of Culture Boris Mazo and two heads of the Baltstroy company Dmitry Sergeev and Alexander Kochenov of new thefts. This time we are talking about a possible fraud in the reconstruction of the Tambov Museum “Aseev’s Estate”, which cost the state 401.5 million rubles. The director of the museum told Life that after the repairs made by Baltstroy, the walls of the estate cracked steadily every spring, but urged not to stigmatize the contractor before the trial.
Here is the new episode
For 400 million allocated from the federal and regional budgets, the former luxury was returned to the estate – the facade and the surrounding area were ennobled. A separate item was the decoration of halls and offices, once furnished according to the latest fashion and according to all the whims of the manufacturer Aseev.
Only after initially studying the documentation for the restoration of the merchant’s house, the investigators assumed that the officials, together with the contractors, could pull off the same money theft scheme as, for example, in the case of the Novodevichy Convent. According to investigators, part of the allocated 400 million for the reconstruction of the facility could have been stolen according to the same scheme in which officials of the Ministry of Culture were initially caught.
“We are now checking Pirumov, Mazo and the management of the Baltstroy contractor company for involvement in the theft of several million rubles in the execution of state contracts for the reconstruction of the Aseev Estate architectural monument in the amount of 400 million rubles,” a law enforcement source told Life. – The scheme by which they acted was not much different from those already known. The money was taken away according to the schemes of “fictitious work”, when on paper the repair was carried out, but in fact it was not. And also according to schemes, when money was allocated for work that has already been completed.
Exactly how much and for what amount the non-existent works were listed in the documents, the expert group will soon establish.
Pirumov himself or one of the defendants could help the investigators in developing this episode. The fact is that in recent months, on the eve of the trial, almost all the accused in the case of the Ministry of Culture began to actively testify. Many not only confessed, but also made a deal with the investigation – handed over accomplices, reported details of fraudulent schemes in exchange for a reduction in the term. The ex-head of the Department of Property of the Ministry of Culture Boris Mazo, the director of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Restoration Center” Oleg Ivanov, the owner of the Ruslan company Nikita Kolesnikov spoke (he restored the Ivanovo Monastery in the capital). Pirumov confessed later than everyone. Some of them could mention in a conversation with the investigator about several contracts concluded in 2011-2014 for restoration and design work in the Aseev Estate museum complex.
Cracks for 400 million
In total, Baltstroy signed two contracts with the Ministry of Culture for repair and restoration work in the Aseev estate. The first competition was held for 324 million rubles, and the contract for it was signed in October 2012. The second tender, for 51 million, was tried three times, in July 2013. And all three times it was declared invalid – only one “Baltstroy” applied for it. However, the law allows the contracting authority (in this case, the Ministry of Culture) to choose the contractor itself if the tender fails three times. Therefore, work for 51 million nevertheless began, with or without a competition.
In October 2014, the museum was opened to the public. But already in the spring of next year, the renovated estate again required repairs: after a cold winter, plaster crumbled from the walls, showing brickwork and poor quality of work.
“There were certain technical errors that every year in the spring led to the destruction of the stucco,” Dmitry Samorodin, director of the Aseev Estate museum complex, told Life. – There are balconies, they were not properly drained.
A year later, in March 2016, the pattern repeated itself. Bas-reliefs and stucco began to fall off in pieces, the bases of the columns cracked. A whole delegation from the Department of Property Management of the Ministry of Culture (which was headed by Boris Mazo), as well as representatives of Baltstroy, came to watch the destruction. Based on the results of the inspection, Baltstroy undertook to redo everything at its own expense and, as Samorodin says, redid it – however, a year after the first problems appeared.
The director did not tell if he noticed any criminal violations during the reconstruction: the fact is that when the reconstruction was going on, the museum itself as a legal entity did not exist. He added that he had to communicate with representatives of Baltstroy only occasionally, only when the issue of eliminating flaws was being resolved.
“The restoration was completed in 2013, and our organization was opened only in 2014, so we do not intersect with Balstroy in any way,” says Samorodin. – We intersect only as part of the fulfillment of warranty obligations, that is, if damage occurs or there were incorrectly performed work.
At the same time, Samorodin, answering a question about the representatives of Baltstroy, urged people not to brand people before the trial. From questions about whether the investigators examined the estate and whether the investigators studied the documents as part of the case of the Ministry of Culture, Samorodin left.
Attentive readers remember from what was written above that 401.5 million were spent on restoration. However, when adding the cost of the two contracts mentioned, this figure does not come out. How so? It’s simple – back in 2011, the Ministry of Culture concluded several tenders for design surveys and repair work, which were done by firms that had nothing to do with the Ministry of Culture’s case.
Long-suffering branch of Peterhof
The Tambov historical and cultural complex “The Aseev Estate” is considered to be a branch of the Peterhof Museum-Reserve. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the estate looks eclectic: not only was it erected at one time in a mixture of modern, baroque and classicism, but after the reconstruction, a futuristic glass dome began to rise above the roof.
Before the revolution, the land where the estate stands belonged to the Tambov manufacturer and philanthropist Mikhail Vasilievich Aseev from a merchant family. To build the main building of the estate, he invited in 1905 from the capital the architect Lev Kekushev, who is called the first Russian modernist. Kekushev designed Mindovsky’s house on Povarskaya Street (Embassy of New Zealand), Isakov’s tenement house on Prechistenka, and many other Moscow buildings in the Art Nouveau style.
But Aseev was not lucky – a revolution broke out ten years later. In the spring of 1918 he was dispossessed by the Bolsheviks. He emigrated with his family abroad, and the luxurious estate was requisitioned and given over to a summer colony for poor children. In the 1920s, it housed an orphanage. In the early 1930s, the estate was transferred to the healthcare system and was used first as a tuberculosis sanatorium, then as a cardiological one. The director of the estate, Dmitry Samorodov, said that the estate had been a sanatorium until 2009.
Uncultured deputy of Medinsky
Deputy Minister of Culture Grigory Pirumov became widely known in the country thanks to the criminal case of fraud initiated against him and his colleague, the head of the Property Department, Boris Mazo. Pirumov and Mazo are now under arrest in a pre-trial detention center; By the way, when the court decided on the measure of restraint, Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky stood up for Pirumov.
Officials are accused of corruption and embezzlement of money allocated from the budget for the restoration of cultural heritage sites. The criminal case consists of several episodes and is divided into architectural monuments, on which, according to the investigation, Pirumov and his accomplices managed to steal money.
The key episode of the accusation refers to the ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow. According to investigators, at the end of November 2012, Pirumov and Mazo helped win the competition for the restoration project of a historical object controlled by the Ministry of Culture of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Central Scientific and Restoration Design Workshops” (TSNPRM). A state contract for 127.3 million rubles was concluded with the enterprise. Investigators found that the project included works that could be overpriced or that were not needed at all in the monastery.
Around March 2015, according to investigators, high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Culture found builders who undertook the restoration of the Novodevichy Convent. This is how Baltstroy employees Dmitry Sergeev and Alexander Kochenov appeared in the group. Officials promised them that Stroyfasad, a subsidiary of Baltstroy, would win five competitions for the restoration of this facility.
Now there are already five episodes in the case: in addition to the new Tambov, this is Novodevichy, embezzlement of funds for repair work at the Museum of Cosmonautics in Kaluga, at the John the Baptist Monastery in Moscow, the Izborsk Fortress in the Pskov Region and the Drama Theater in Pskov.
As Life previously reported, Kolesnikov told the secret services that Mazo and Pirumov personally received from 5 to 15 percent from one transaction. The total amount of damage can be up to 600 million rubles.