A criminal case against Russia's Railways Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko has been extended by two more months, Valentin Simuchenkov, acting first deputy of Russia's Prosecutor-General, said on Tuesday at a meeting of the anti-corruption commission of the State Duma (lower house of parliament). Simuchenkov said that, as follows from the case, the Ministry of Railways set up a financial system under which real taxpayers - 17 railways - actually paid no taxes. The Ministry's debt to all budgets stands at 29 billion roubles. Besides, the representative of the Prosecutor-General's Office said, the ministry unlawfully increased the staff and the salaries of top officials. The investigation also implicates Aksyonenko in illegally spending state funds. In October he was charged under Article 286 (abuse of office), Simuchenkov recalled. The case also has other principals, he noted. Simuchenkov supported a proposal by Nikolai Kovalyov, chairman of the parliamentary anti-corruption commission, to set up a permanent team under the Prosecutor-General's Office to check the commission's materials. Kovalyov said that within the year the commission had referred to the Prosecutor-General's Office more than 400 citizens' appeals and 37 requests from plenary sessions of the State Duma. On all appeals the Prosecutor-General's Office adopted procedural decisions.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea