A scandal sprang up yesterday in Russia at the end of the working day. It is hard to estimate the scale of the scandal, even 12 hours after it started. Several Russian mass media outlets stated that the Russian Office of Prosecutor General brought the charges against Russia’s Railway Minister Nikolay Aksenenko. The minister was accused of using of over $1 million not according to the designated purpose. The minister was given a written order not to leave.
It is hard to underestimate this news. The accusation was brought against Nikolay Aksenenko – the most “unsinkable” official in the Russian Government. Aksenenko has been working in the government for 4 years already. He workd in the government during the Yeltsin era, and he is still there with Putin.
As Russian TV has stated, Nikolay Aksenenko sent in his resignation after the visit to the Office of Prosecutor General. The information about charging Aksenenko for the illegal use of money has several indirect facts for its confirmation. In particular, it is known that the minister spent the majority of yesterday at the Office of the Prosecutor General, he was summoned to the Office as a witness regarding the abuse of money in the Railway Ministry. However, during the interrogation, Aksenenko was proclaimed as a defendant. The minister refused to sign the written undertaking. Russian Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov indirectly confirmed this information. His speech on the subject was rather vague, and one could not make any conclusions from it.
Vladimir Ustinov asked journalists not to stir up a scandal. “I can say the only thing: it was not only the railway, against which there were proceedings instituted, but also other ministerial departments and the officials of very high rank will have to account for their actions. An interrogation at the Prosecutor’s office does not mean the person is considered guilty. The court will make the final resolution. When the situation becomes clear, we will not hide anything from the public. The fact that someone refuses to sign the protocol is his own business,” – said Ustinov.
In the meantime, the press service of the Russian Railway Ministry rejected the information that Aksenenko was brought the accusations: “Nikolay Aksenenko really was at the Office of the Prosecutor General yesterday, he answered several questions as a witness, pertaining to the economic activity of the enterprise,” – reported the press-service.
Today, Nikolay Aksenenko claimed he was going to sue several media outlets in order to protect his dignity and honor: the media companies that distributed the information about his resignation. Aksenenko pointed out that he had not sent in his resignation and was not going to do it.”
At today’s press conference, Aksenenko confirmed that he really was at the Prosecutor’s Office on Friday, as a witness on the case of several infringements, connected with the economic activity of the Railway Ministry. In the words of the minister, the investigators were interested in the economic activity of the Railway Ministry, particularly in paying the wages to the employees of the Ministry from extra-budget funds. Like Aksenenko mentioned, the Railway Ministry was the only department, which combined the state and economic functions – this is registered in the Regulations about the Railway Ministry, which were approved by the Government back in 1996. Aksenenko believes, the reform of the Ministry, which is just getting started, has a goal to deprive the department of that double function.
Aksenenko's speeches are also rather vague. The media actually reported about his criminal account as a witness rather than his resignation. The minister intends to sue for the would-be resignation, which is like baby talk after yesterday’s news.