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Blog Shows Lavish Chechen Spending

Prominent blogger and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny on Thursday accused the Chechen Interior Ministry of illegally spending millions of rubles in federal money on expensive cars and other goods.

On his LiveJournal blog, Navalny published screenshots from official websites as evidence of the allegations.

The images show state purchases and copies of complaints filed by Navalny and his fellow activists with various regional law enforcement agencies, as well as copies of official replies from these agencies.

Navalny accused the ministry of failing to ask permission to buy 15 Mercedes luxury cars and one Porsche Cayenne sports car without holding an auction.

No bidders applied to take part in an auction, so officials went ahead and bought the vehicles. They paid 113 million rubles ($3.8 million).

They also purchased other goods without following the proper procedure, but those items were not specified.

For some purchases made without holding an auction, the ministry failed to disclose its protocols. That violated the 2005 law on state purchases, said Navalny, a lawyer by training.

"Federal money sent in large amounts to the Chechen Interior Ministry is spent in an absolutely nontransparent and fraudulent way," Navalny wrote.

As a result of complaints by Navalny and his fellow activists, the Russian Service for Financial Monitoring plans to examine the ministry's expenses this year.

But by order of the Prosecutor General's Office, regional prosecutors have not examined Navalny's complaint.

Navalny listed the ministry officials responsible for making and authorizing purchases, including Deputy Minister Roman Edilov and deputy head of the Auctions Commission Albert Gaisultanov.

The blogger also said it was "obvious that violations of such a scale could not have happened without being sanctioned by Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov."

Chechen officials did not publicly comment on the accusations Thursday, and repeated calls to the press office of the Chechen Interior Ministry went unanswered.

Navalny published the accusations in response to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who in late January publicly called him a "chatterbox" and a "coward" and said Navalny "never gives any names in his exposés because he is scared to."

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