Corruption weekly: 11-18 August

Russiangate publishes a weekly digest of the most important media investigations.

On August 11 agency Reuters published an investigation into why Rosneft lent tens of billions of dollars in recent years to the state-owned Venezuelan oil and gas company PDVSA.

Venezuela is going through a deep crisis; only the money of Russia and Rosneft have helped the country to avoid a default or a political coup several times. In exchange for loans issued, Moscow receives oil assets and also extends control over the world's largest fuel reserves.

Rosneft currently owns a substantial part of the country's five major oil projects. And, according to Reuters, has received an offer to participate in the remaining four.

The president of Venezuela is dependent on Russia, the country has nothing to pay debts with.

"The Russians are catching Venezuela at rock bottom,"  said a western diplomat to Reuters.

Venezuela’s debt has reached $ 17 billion, according to calculations by Reuters. The Government of Venezuela does not publish this information.

On August 15, "Medusa" published an investigation by Ivan Golunov who found out who invented the Moscow renovation project.

The new housing restructuring program appeared in 2014, and was presented to the mayor of Moscow Sobyanin almost a year ago, at the end of Summer 2016. In May 2017, the Department of Urban Development Policy announced a tender for the development of a renovation project, the technical specification for the tender was drafted by an employee of the City Development Company. She subsequently became the winner of the contest.

City development, which received more than 120 million rubles annually from the Moscow construction complex, was engaged in a renovation program from 2014, it was their research that eventually formed the basis for the proposals to the Moscow authorities.

On August 18, "Medusa" issued a continuation of the investigation; Ivan Golunov studied in detail who received more than 70 billion rubles from the budget. He found numerous acquaintances and former partners of vice-mayor of Moscow Marat Khusnullin, as well as other interesting people.

On August 16, "Vedomosti" dealt with one of the most high-profile cases of corruption in 2016 and argued that Igor Sechin personally participated in a development of Alexei Ulyukayev.

The former minister of economic development is accused of extorting a bribe worth $2 million from the head of Rosneft for a positive conclusion to the transaction on the purchase of Bashneft. Sechin agreed to pay, but then appealed to the FSS - in the framework of a special operation the ex-minister was detained.

There are still many gaps in the case. On October 12, 2016 the contract on Bashneft was already concluded and the events described above occurred on October 15. Ulyukaev said that Sechin himself called him and asked him to come to discuss the current issues.

Elizaveta Peskova's activity is big news in Russian and foreign publications, but she is not the only heiress of the president's press secretary. On August 11, an investigation was published on our website about how her less popular relatives live.

On August 17, FBK published  a detailed investigation, telling about the lifestyle of Nikolai Choles, the eldest son of Dmitry Peskov. Choles owns an apartment in the center of Moscow, flies on private planes, goes horseback riding, and does not work.

Also, FBK, referring to the data from the British Justice Department, claims that in the UK Nikolai Choles participated in several attacks, which he was convicted of in 2009 and spent a year in prison.

In Russia, Choles was also prosecuted, it was reported that he attacked his own grandmother. Subsequently, the case was closed. FBK reports that Peskov's son also is not paying alimony and has violated driving regulations more than a hundred times.

Choles himself called the investigation a “nightmare” and a “provocation.”

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