Russian high-profile innovations centre insists it does not fund opposition

Skolkovo File Photo

(Interfax – May 15, 2013) The head of the Skolkovo Foundation, tycoon Viktor Vekselberg, has denied reports that the innovations centre has been financing the opposition in Russia, privately-owned Interfax news agency reported on 15 May.

Asked by journalists whether the Skolkovo Foundation may have been involved in financing the opposition movement in Russia, he said: “No, it is categorically not involved (in this)”.

Speculation that Skolkovo may have been channelling funds to support the opposition appeared when it transpired that the innovations foundation had paid opposition MP Ilya Ponomarev some 750,000 dollars under a contract for delivering a series of lectures. There has also been speculation that these allegations may have been one of the reasons for the recent resignation of former Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov, who is closely associated with the Skolkovo project.

Commenting on the criminal investigation launched against a former Skolkovo vice-president over the controversial contract with Ponomarev, Vekselberg said that it had not affected the project’s investment attractiveness, a later Interfax report on the same day said. “I think all our partners understand that there is a big, key, systemic good and there are trifles,” Vekselberg said.

The report further quoted him as saying that the Skolkovo Foundation would always be as transparent as possible and would combat any forms of violations.