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Dam Engineer Fined for Disaster Cleanup

A senior engineer at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric plant, where a malfunction killed dozens in 2009, was fined 3.3 million rubles ($115,000) for abuse of office over the disaster's cleanup.

Alexander Pogonyaichenko, who was both deputy chief engineer at the plant and head of a private company, handed a repair contract to his own firm, Khakasia prosecutors said in an online statement Monday.

He also subcontracted a fake firm for the job in order to boost his earnings from the scheme, prosecutors said. They did not specify how much money the plant lost that way.

Pogonyaichenko pleaded guilty and was fined for a sum equivalent to his yearly income, the report said. Neither party appealed the Sayanogorsk town court's decision, which came into force Monday.

It remained unclear whether the corrupt engineer has kept his job at the plant, which is owned by state company RusHydro.

Seventy-five people were killed at Sayano-Shushenskaya after a turbine exploded in August 2009, causing the premises to be flooded.

Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claimed to be behind the explosion, but investigators dismissed the claim and blamed the incident, which crippled the plant, on equipment failure.

Nevertheless, President Dmitry Medvedev requested that a bill be drafted to step up anti-terrorist security at power stations following the incident, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered safety checks on all strategic objects nationwide.

The terrorism protection bill is winding its way through the Kremlin administration, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin told Medvedev on Monday.

Seven people, including the plant's former head Nikolai Nevolko and several engineers, face various prison terms on safety rules violations over the dam blast. No date for the trials has been set.

Sayano-Shushenskaya, which is the country's largest and the world's fourth largest hydroelectric power plant, partially resumed operations last year, but repairs are expected to last until 2014.

Medvedev toured the plant along with RusHydro head Yevgeny Dod on Friday to examine the progress of the repairs, the Kremlin web site reported.

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