Governor Belykh to keep witness status on alcohol factory sale case

The Kirov region's Governor Nikita Belykh will stay a witness in the case involving the embezzlement of 25.5% of the shares of OAO Urzhum Alcohol and Vodka Factory.

"I remain a witness," Belykh told reporters during a working visit to the region, on which he went on Wednesday after leaving the building of the region's economic security department, where he was questioned by investigators.

Belykh also said the investigators had not asked him any questions he was not ready to answer.

Speaking about the search of his office that took place on Tuesday, Belykh said the investigators have a lot of information to study.

"You know, I always have a lot of papers on my desk. After [the search], I told myself I'm going to start working differently with papers. When the investigators saw my desk, which was strewn with papers, they realized they had a lot of work to do," the governor said, adding that was the reason why his questioning took so long.

Belykh said he believes the questioning is a routine procedure and said he is surprised by the broad public reaction to his meeting with the investigators. "I have been questioned about ten times in the 3-4 years I have worked as governor," he said.

Speaking about the reasons for the searches in the Urzhum Alcohol Factory and the involvement of opposition activist Alexei Navalny in the case, he said that "there are no politics in that."

"Everyone has his own job. They are looking at a specific period. Our task is to help them," Belykh said.

"The investigators have asked me the questions they had to this day. If more issues arise, we will resolve them by phone or in questionings. Everything will depend on the work of the Investigations Committee," Belykh said.

On January 29, investigators from the Main Investigations Department of the Investigations Committee and the Main Department for Economic Security and Corruption Prevention of the Russian Interior Ministry and the Russian Federal Security Service searched Belykh's office.

Igor Burkov (general director of OOO Partner), Andrei Devyatyarov and Marianna Popova (an official with the Kirov branch of the technical inventarization bureau) were earlier detained on suspicion of the said crime. They are currently in police custody. A search warrant has been issued for Konstantin Arzamastsev, former director of the Kirov region's state property department.

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