While ordinary people donate as much as they can for uniforms and Chinese quadrocopters for Russian army fighters, and the country’s budget as a whole is in danger of a deficit, officials from the Accounts Chamber do not count state money. They love comfort, prestige and fly business class, Octagon noted, although the department’s primary task is to control the effective use of the state budget. Former chapter Alexei Kudrin they even drove first class for 1.3 million rubles and settled in five-star hotels in Rio de Janeiro.
Business class tickets are three to seven times more expensive than regular tickets. Benefits include a larger seat, priority pick-up and drop-off, airport service, more variety on the menu, and alcohol. Not only auditors of the Accounts Chamber (12 auditors are its key officials), but also little-known and unknown officials of the department fly in business class on business trips.
For example, The Accounts Chamber paid for the air travel of the director of one of the departments of the joint venture and the inspector to Yekaterinburg and back in January 2023. The amount was 144 thousand rubles for two, tickets to Nizhny Novgorod cost 80 thousand rubles.
Veniamin Simonov – Director of the Department of Audit of Financial Markets and Public Debt of the Accounts Chamber, he is also Archimandrite Philip. Doctor of Economics, Professor, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, Honored Economist of the Russian Federation, Head of the Church History Department of Moscow State University. In addition, he is a priest at St. Nicholas Church in Otradnoe (Moscow). Average income in recent years is about 700 thousand rubles a month. his fellow traveler Ivan Harlanov – Head of the Inspectorate of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, former assistant to the chairman of the Federation Council for economic issues.
Officials go on business trips not only in the main, control and accounting specialization of the department. Often we are talking about “experience exchange” and training events, although JV employees able make do with videoconferencing. Auditor of the Accounts Chamber Oleg Saveliev and head of inspection Atsamaz Dedegkaev this month they flew in business class on the route Moscow – Omsk – Moscow, spending 217 thousand rubles for two. The head of the inspectorate flew to Mineralnye Vody and back for 63 thousand rubles in January Alexey Svishchev.
The African tour (Kenya, Liberia and Morocco) worth more than 600 thousand rubles took place at the beginning of February 2023 with the Deputy Director of the Financial Audit Department of the Office of the Accounts Chamber Denis Strizheusovalthough a year ago it was enough communication with foreign colleagues via video. The official traveled along the route Moscow – Dubai – Nairobi – Monrovia – Casablanca – Istanbul – Moscow. At the same time, ordinary employees of the joint venture Oleg Kostylev And Andrey Susarenko made a similar flight in economy class – six times cheaper. Director of the Department of International and Regional Cooperation Timur Makhmutov and Head of the Department for Cooperation with INTOSAI and other International Organizations Yaroslav Yalovenko flew business class to India.
Although the Accounts Chamber periodically complains that three-quarters of public procurements are made with a single applicant, tickets without any competition (“purchase from a single supplier”) are provided by City Booking and Tourism Center JSC. Despite the name, this company has nothing to do with the Moscow City Hall and is private. The names of its owners are hidden, but the organization actively interacts with government agencies.
The same firm provided accommodation for the employees of the Accounts Chamber in hotels, and the department did not think about savings in this area either. For example, six nights spent by the head of the joint venture Alexei Kudrin in a five-star hotel Fairmont Rio de Janeiro Copacabana in November 2022 cost budget of 830 thousand rubles. International Congress of Auditors at that time really passed, Kudrin was then preparing to retire and go to work at Yandex. During that trip, three of his subordinates were booked simpler rooms – each almost three times cheaper.
Under Kudrin, the situation with the purchase of air tickets by the main audit department as a whole was
similar. He himself flew to Brazil first class for 1.3 million rubles, using the services of the Emirates airline: his own “cabin”, a shower-spa. “Feel like you’re on board a private jet,” is how the service is described on the Emirates website. Many of Kudrin’s colleagues also appreciate the increased comfort and fly abroad and in Russia with all the amenities.
The Octagon sent several questions to the Accounts Chamber, which, in the status of acting chairman, is headed by Galina Izotova (as it follows from the above information, she also prefers business class).
The press service of the Accounts Chamber replied that they are guided by the legislation (Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of July 18, 2005 No. 813 “On the procedure and conditions for secondment of federal state civil servants”) and allegedly try to save:
– It should be noted that for persons replacing the highest positions of the civil service of the category “heads”, in the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, air tickets are purchased in a class lower than that established by the above document, in order to save money.
Regarding recent trips, the JV stated that in February 2023 “representatives of the Supreme Audit Institution of Russia visited the Republic of India to participate in the sixth meeting Heads of Supreme Audit Institutions of the SCO Member States”. And the trip through Dubai and Nairobi took place “as part of the implementation by the Accounts Chamber of the powers of an external auditor of one of the organizations of the UN system”, the employee was sent to the place of verification. When asked about who checks the joint venture, the department indicated that the Accounts Chamber itself publishes reports on its activities, and “the objectivity of the results obtained is checked by the President’s Main Control Department.”
The Decree of the President of the Russian Federation “On the procedure and conditions for the secondment of federal state civil servants” provides for the provision of business class tickets only to heads of departments, in addition, the current situation a priori implies additional savings measures.
In 2020, the Russian branch of the German non-profit organization Transparency International (included by the Russian Ministry of Justice in the register of NPO-foreign agents) held study, according to the results of which 63 percent of the budget funds allocated to pay for air travel by representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Culture and the abolished Minsevkavkaz were spent on business class seats. Cases of using private jets have been recorded. Purchases of tickets for the employees of the JV itself were not analyzed, and following the results of the study, the NPO “sent applications to the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation on all facts of discovered excesses of the maximum norms for the use of the class of flights.” The above reaction of the Accounts Chamber speaks for itself: the department cannot control its expenses on its own, and it is quite satisfied with the current trend towards classifying public procurement.