“This is the wrong person and the wrong situation.”

The Tverskoy Court of Moscow refused to be imprisoned in a pre-trial detention center, as requested by the investigation, and placed the rector of the Moscow Higher School of Social and Economic Sciences (Shaninka) Sergei Zuev under house arrest on suspicion of large-scale fraud (part 4 of Art. 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The charge is in the case of the former Deputy Minister of Education of the Russian Federation and Vice President of Sberbank Marina Rakova. The investigation suspects the rector of embezzling more than 21 million rubles allocated to the university within the framework of the national project “Education”. The investigation allegedly became interested in Zuev after it turned out that Shaninka was the main executor of state contracts, the fate of which formed the basis of the investigation. Zuev's colleagues and students do not believe in the charges brought against him and are outraged by the detention. All day they stood at the court awaiting a decision. We greeted the rector leaving the building with applause.

Sergei Zuev in court. Photo: RIA Novosti

The arrest of the 67-year-old rector of Shaninka in Moscow became known on the evening of October 11. According to a friend of Zuev, a member of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives Pyotr Shchedrovitsky, the rector was “taken” right in the hospital, where he was hospitalized with a hypertensive crisis, and then interrogated for more than 30 hours. The investigation into the fraud case is being carried out by the Main Directorate of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Moscow. Later, the police confirmed the fact of the arrest of Zuev, specifying that he was in the status of a suspect.

Shaninka came into the field of view of the security forces on September 30. An unnamed representative of the university then said that the university, together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, is checking on issues related to contracts for research activities with the FGAU “Fund for New Forms of Education Development”, owned by the Ministry of Education. The university clarified that Shaninka “provides all-round assistance to the representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.”

The check at the university was connected with a criminal case brought against the former Deputy Minister of Education and, until recently, the vice-president of Sberbank, Marina Rakova. According to state news agencies,

Rakova allegedly lobbied for the allocation of budgetary funds to the Fund for New Forms of Education Development, and the latter ordered the work from a subcontractor, Shaninka.

According to Kommersant, we are talking about the money allocated within the framework of the Education national project, and specifically for the Teacher of the Future program. The program planned to open 225 centers for “continuous professional development” for teachers throughout the country. Investigators believe that only part of the money was stolen. In particular, Rakova is accused of embezzling 50 million rubles, since the work on two contracts was not completed, but the money itself was transferred. And Zuev is suspected of embezzling 21 million rubles allocated for research work.

Searches were carried out in Rakova's house and in the Sberbank office. After she stopped communicating, the Ministry of Internal Affairs put her on the wanted list, but a week later Rakova and her lawyer came to the investigators.

On October 4, Rakova was fired from Sberbank, and on October 6 she was detained and arrested the next day. According to Kommersant, she was offered to plead guilty and conclude a pre-trial agreement, in return – she was promised house arrest, but she refused the deal with the investigation. In addition to the ex-official herself, the defendants in the case are her husband Artur Stetsenko, the former head of the Fund for New Forms of Development of Education Maxim Inkin and his deputy Yevgeny Zak, as well as the former executive director of Shaninka Kristina Kryuchkova – all are in jail.

Friends and relatives of Zuev do not believe the investigation, the accusation arouses their indignation. Late in the evening on October 12, the pregnant daughter of the detained rector of Shaninka, Darya Rud, stood in a solitary picket outside the building of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at 38 Petrovka Street, protesting against the detention of her father.

Colleagues of the rector are in solidarity with her. They consider the criminal case to be another attack on the university. The previous one was in 2018, when Shaninka was deprived of accreditation and the ability to issue state diplomas. Rosobrnadzor explained the revocation of the license “by the discrepancy between educational programs and state standards” and “insufficient qualifications of teachers.” The accreditation was returned to the university only in 2020.

“I don’t believe a single word of our so-called“ law enforcement ”agencies. And I don’t believe whoever and how the accusations were formulated in the end. I know too well how representatives of law enforcement agencies “work”, seeking to achieve “confessions”, regular “stars” or simply improving statistics, ”Petr Shchedrovitsky commented on the detention of the rector on Facebook.

In support of Zuev in social networks, his friends and colleagues have publicly spoken out. In a conversation with Novaya Gazeta, Shaninka's teacher Boris Kagarlitsky said that the atmosphere at the university is not the most joyful now, everyone is outraged by what is happening, but the teachers are on the spot and the classes are continuing.

“I categorically cannot imagine Sergei Zuev playing the role of a corrupt official or a waste of public funds. This is the wrong person and the wrong situation. He is a scientific, academic person, and in this part I am absolutely sure that Zuev is not guilty in any way. I can’t imagine how to steal a grant from a university, it’s almost impossible to do because of the bureaucracy. It is possible to spend money ineffectively in Russia, but it is impossible to just steal and remain invisible, ”Kagarlitsky said.

In his opinion,

Zuev's criminal prosecution may be due to the fact that Shaninka “is considered almost the only stronghold of free-thinking,” and the authorities might not like this.

“It is very difficult to work so that a shadow does not fall on you or the university, and you do nothing illegal. Because around the officials and all sorts of influential people are quite corrupt, “- explained Kagarlitsky.

On October 13, the investigation went to the Tverskoy court with a petition to detain the rector of Shaninka. He spent the whole night in the IVS. About a hundred colleagues and students came to the court to support Zuev. Among them were Zuev's daughter Daria and his wife Elizaveta Fokina. They refrained from commenting. Together with them was a professor at the Higher School of Economics, Alexander Arkhangelsky, who wished to become a surety. He expressed confidence that Zuev was “not involved in anything that he is suspected of,” and he was involved in this case on far-fetched grounds. Also, political scientist and associate professor Shaninki Ekaterina Shulman, politician Yulia Galyamina, activist Konstantin Kotov and others could not stand aside and came to court.

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