Pochinok Vs. Narusova: Who wins?

Alexander Pochinok, the Minister of Labor and Social Development, stated today that the Fund for Mutual Understanding and Reconciliation is experiencing difficulties paying compensations to Russian victims of nazism of the World War II. The problems occurred because of the activity of the fund's previous administration. Lyudmila Narusova was the head of the fund, the widow of the former mayor of St.Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak.

Pochinok claimed that there were serious questions to be asked to the previous management of the fund: why the fund was carrying out illegal financial operations and investing the money, which was meant for compensation payments, in banks and buying shares with the money.

Lyudmila Narusova was the chairwoman of the advisory board of the fund for two years, from April 2000 till April 2002. The press wrote that she received the position due to President Putin’s friendship with Sobchak. However, when it was reported that Narusova was dismissed from her post, mass media outlets wrote this decision was also made by Putin, although the adequate document was signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

The reason for Narusova’s dismissal was allegedly the fact that Germany (which transferred the money to the fund for those compensations) was concerned after Ksenia Sobchak’s apartment was robbed (Ksenia is Lyudmila Narusova and Anatoly Sobchak’s daughter). It was reported that the thieves stole jewelry in the sum of $600 thousand, and German government representatives and special services were afraid of some plundering scandal. Germany asked Russia to take measures.

Measures were been taken, and Narusova was dismissed. Lyudmila Narusova believes that the fund is working in a very inefficient way. For example, she was not happy about the fact that the information pertaining to the financial activity of the fund was exposed. However, she failed to attract any attention to this problem.

The session that was presided over by First Vice Premier of the Russian government Valentina Matviyenko was devoted to the results of the first stage of compensation payments. Alexander Pochinok released a statement concerning the activity of the previous management of the fund after this session. Incumbent chairwoman of the fund Natalia Malysheva declared that Germany assigned 400 million DM for compensation to 390 thousand Russian people in 1993. Malysheva added that the scheme of the compensation will be changed: they will be paid to those people who prove that they were forced to work for Nazis like slaves. As Malysheva said, “we are working on a new mechanism that will exclude the untargeted use of the funds.” She also stated that Germany assigned ten billion DM to all people who suffered from the Nazi slavery.

It is hard to say if Pochinok’s statement will cause problems for Lyudmila Narusova. The fact that she was Anatoly Sobchak’s wife is supposed to protect her. However, it would not be bad to find out how the money of the fund was spent, otherwise the victims of nazism may not see any money at all.

Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru

On the picture: Lyudmila Narusova

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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