At one time, a huge scandal erupted on the lands belonging to Finland on the Karelian coast, when local officials are suspected of illegally pranking themselves for renovation money in the Vyborg district as much as twice the annual budget of the city of Vyborg.
A new shock was felt in Russia on Saturday, when his businessman and city councilor Aleksandr Petrov, 61, who was called the real leader of Vyborg, was shot dead at his Säkkijärvi villa.
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It is not yet certain whether the two gloomy news are directly related to each other, but for many Vyborgians it came to mind first.
According to the Nevskie Novosti news page, it is at least certain that Petrov had been summoned to the Russian Committee of Inquiry on Monday because of a renovation money scandal.
However, it is not known whether he would have been wanted to be heard as a witness or suspect.
- According to our source, the attack on Aleksandr Petrov may be related to the Vyborg affair, Nevskie Novosti writes.
The so-called Vyborg story is about several different criminal suspicions, but they have two main branches.
The second branch concerns the amount of just over 700 million rubles, which had to go to the restoration and maintenance of old buildings, mainly in the city of Vyborg.
The second concerns an amount of just over 800 million rubles set aside for the rehabilitation and maintenance of roads throughout the Vyborg region.
The amount makes a total of more than 1.5 billion rubles.
The amount of money is best illustrated by the fact that it is about twice the City of Vyborg's own annual budget.
In euros, the amount corresponds to about 16.5 million euros at the current weakening of the ruble.
As the suspected frauds took place mainly between 2015 and 2019, the amount lost is actually higher in euro terms.
At the average exchange rate of the ruble at that time, we can talk about at least 20 million euros.
Gennady Orlov, the director of the Vyborg district administration, is currently under house arrest, which will last at least until November 12.Picture: Vyborg district administration
Gennadi Orlov, 64, Vyborg's long-time district director, has been a high-ranking suspect so far.
A search of Orlov's places was carried out last weekend and he was taken to court in St. Petersburg, where he was demanded to be detained for the duration of the investigation.
However, the defense relied on Orlov's willingness to cooperate and his previous innocence, such as the state decorations he received.
As a result, Orlov was placed under house arrest until November 12th.
- I'm innocent.
And if I had wanted to escape, I would have done it earlier, Orlov said at the trial.
(In the video below, Orlov is in trial where he was placed under house arrest.)
The Russian commission of inquiry suspects that Orlov has illegally exported more than 700 million rubles from the renovation budget of the Vyborg district together with his subordinate, the head of the district finance committee Alexander Bolutshevsky.
Bolutshevski was arrested as early as September for these suspicions and is currently in pre-trial detention in St. Petersburg.
Aleksandr Bolutshevski, the head of the Vyborg District Finance Committee, was the first to be the subject of criminal suspicions. Photo: Vyborg District Administration
Bolutshevsky is also suspected of paying budget money as compensation for renovations to buildings that have not actually been carried out.
Fictitious renovations, in turn, are suspected of being companies controlled by Bolutshevski himself.
According to Russian media, Bolutshevsky has already preliminarily pleaded guilty.
He has said that he wanted to move from Vyborg to work in the Moscow city administration, but the condition for getting there has been to pay a kind of brokerage fee to a person named Marija Nikolaevna.
The amount claimed, he said, was initially 200 million rubles, but eventually the amount had risen to 350 million rubles, thus costing half of the 700 million rubles suspected of being lost.
(In the video below, Orlov says he made a mistake in trusting Bolutshevsky.)
When Bolutshevsky's suspected crime came to light, Orlov began to investigate the matter promptly, both in the district administration and in public.
Among other things, he gave a video statement in which he pleaded guilty to not understanding the control of his subordinates.
- I made a mistake.
I trusted unconditionally man who has betrayed me, the district administration and all the residents of the Vyborg district, Orlov said, referring to Bolutshevskiin.
“I’m not going to leave town, and I’m going to help the investigation find out all the people involved in this matter,” Orlov continued.
View of the Vyborg castle tower photographed in June 2012. Photo: Martti Kainulainen
Information about the criminal investigation of the second branch came to light in October.
It has not yet named any of the Vyborg district officials as suspects.
These are three road repairs contracted in 2014, 2016 and 2017. The companies in St. Petersburg, called ProektStroi and ProektStroi SPB, which were founded or partly owned by businessman Alexei Kotlyarenko, but have since ceased operations, were selected as contractors.
According to the 47news website, Kotlyarenko is currently imprisoned in St. Petersburg, so he is the second to be remanded in custody alongside Bolutshevsky.
According to Novaya Gazeta, both men have reported in interrogations that the authorities' suspicions have been extended to Orlov.
A total of almost 802 million rubles is said to have been completed for imaginary road repairs.
View of the renovated bell tower of the old cathedral from Tervaniemi.
The picture is from this summer.Photo: Dmitry Semyonov
According to Novaya Gazeta, the investigation into the fraud scandal is just beginning.
The lost money is suspected to have come mainly from either the Russian state budget or the budget of the Leningrad Regional Government, so the use of money by the district administration should have been controlled in those respects.
In addition, researchers are more interested in how budget-funded renovation projects have been distributed to local businessmen in Vyborg, for example, and whether value for money has been obtained.
It is in this context that the name of businessman Aleksandr Petrov has also come to the fore, as his companies are known to have over the years managed a number of lucrative contracts paid for by the city and the district.
Petrov has also been considered a good acquaintance of Orlov, who is now under house arrest.
- Presumably the arrests in connection with the case are not over yet.
The loops could extend much higher, said a police source interviewed by Novaya Gazeta anonymously last week, before the events took a new turn with Petrov’s murder.
The annual budget of the Vyborg district is about 5 billion rubles and Vyborg's own annual budget is about 800 million rubles.
It is known that this money has not disappeared directly, but intermediate bets have been made on renovation money allocated separately by the Russian state and the Leningrad region.
According to Kommersant, for example, the city of Vyborg has been given at least 4.4 billion rubles in renovation money from the Russian state budget over the past few years.
The money has also been demonstrably used for genuine renovations, as the look of the Vyborg city center has improved and the facades of some houses have been repaired in recent years.