Organizers of Moscow projects involving pro-opposition writers accused of fraud

A fraud inquiry has been opened into a campaign aimed at boosting the popularity of reading at Moscow parks and holding literary contests, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax.

A fraud inquiry has been opened into a campaign aimed at boosting the popularity of reading at Moscow parks and holding literary contests, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax.

"The Main Investigative Department conducted a procedural investigation following media publications of reports that the Moscow opposition was financed with the help of budget funds received by the BURO17 and Slava companies as part of implementing state contacts on holding events intended to enhance the prestige of reading at Moscow parks and literary contests," Markin said.

BURO17 head Alexandrina Markvo and Andrei Mylnikov have been placed under investigation and have been accused of involvement in large-scale fraud (Parts 3 and 4 of Article 159 of the Russian Penal Code), he said.

Writers and members of the artistic intelligentsia took part in events organized by Markvo, Markin said.

"However, for some unknown reason, they accidentally were presented as members of the so-called Opposition Coordination Council and the Voters' League. They include writers Dmitry Bykov, Lev Rubinshtein, Viktor Shenderovich and Boris Akunin, as well as TV presenters Mikhail Shats and Tatyana Lazareva," Markin said.

"Boris Akunin left Russia after he learned that he was summoned by an investigator. Lev Rubinshtein and Viktor Shenderovich refused to speak to investigators altogether, citing Article 51 of the Russian Constitution," he said.

"Such a response left us thinking about these persons' actual role in the project organized by Markvo and her authorized representatives, including Vladimir Ashutkov, who became notorious in connection with [opposition activist Alexei] Navalny's election campaign," Markin said.

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